BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati says he still has to overcome major hurdles to forming a new government, amid a deep economic and political crisis that has left the country with a caretaker administration for a year.
Mikati, the third person picked to try to form a government since last year, told Saudi-owned television network Al Hadath that the situation in Lebanon remained grave.
Forming a government is a necessary first step to secure international support to help pull Lebanon out of its deepest crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war. The currency has collapsed, while medicines and fuel are running out.
The prime minister’s post is held by a Sunni according to Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Lebanon has been run by the caretaker government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who resigned with his cabinet after a massive Beirut port blast ripped through the capital a year ago.
A day earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the socio-economic situation in Lebanon and called on all “political leaders to urgently form an effective government of national unity,” his spokesman said.
This is needed to “bring immediate relief, justice and accountability ... and drive an ambitious and meaningful course for reform to restore access to basic services, restore stability, promote sustainable development and inspire hope for a better future,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday.
A two-year-long financial meltdown hit a crunch point in Lebanon this month as fuel shortages paralyzed much of the country, sparking chaos and numerous security incidents.
The European Union also expressed concern at the deterioration of the crisis in Lebanon, its ambassador to Beirut said on Thursday, telling Lebanese leaders the time for action had run out and urging them to form a government.