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Consultations to pick new PM kick off in crisis-hit Lebanon

Najib Mikati has already accepted the backing of 44 MPs in parliamentary consultations to select the crisis-hit country's new prime minister following the resignation of Saad al-Hariri.

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Parliamentary consultations to elect a new Lebanese prime minister kicked off this morning, with two-time premier Najib Mikati already accepting the backing of 44 MPs in the parliament.

Former premier Saad al-Hariri, who resigned earlier this month, voted for Mikati alongside the rest of his parliamentary bloc. Mikati is also backed by MP Elie Ferzli, who serves as Deputy Speaker of the Parliament.

Earlier in the day, Mikati met with President Michel Aoun fleetingly before departing without giving any statements. The rest of the country’s parliamentary blocs will cast their ballots throughout the day. The Lebanese Forces, the country’s second-largest Christian bloc, proclaimed Sunday that it would not vote for anyone, in line with its previous stance since mass protests kicked off in late 2019.

If a new premier is elected during this period, it will be the third attempt within a year to form a government amid deepening political and economic turmoil witnessed in the country.

Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government since then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned in the wake of the port explosion in Beirut which killed more than 200 people in August 2020.

Despite an economic crisis, branded by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst since the mid-19th century, political confrontations have repeatedly hindered progress, with two designated prime ministers failing to form a cabinet since.

Talks began in the presidential palace at 10:30 am and will run until the afternoon, with a final pick announced by the end of the day, said the official National News Agency.

Three of Lebanon’s former prime ministers, Saad al-Hariri, Fouad Siniora, and Tamam Salam, on Thursday, said they would endorse Mikati’s contention.

If selected, the 65-year-old politician will be expected to deliver a cabinet that satisfies political leaders jostling for shares in the cabinet and ministerial portfolios.

While it could take months before an actual government is formed, the country which has been grappling with soaring poverty, a plummeting local currency and basic items shortages, from medicine to fuel, cannot afford any further delays in the solution of the country’s political uncertainty.

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