On Wednesday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that he would assemble the Cabinet within days for the first time in over three months, perhaps putting an end to a deadlock that has crippled the government amid a financial crisis.
During a meeting with President Michel Aoun, Mikati said “We will convene the Cabinet as soon as the budget for 2022 is received,” adding that this should occur “within the next two days.”
Since October 12, the strong Iran-backed Hezbollah organization and its allies, the Amal Movement, have refused to convene the Cabinet, demanding the resignation of a judge probing the deadly 2020 Beirut port bombing. Mikati has said that the executive branch is powerless to intervene in the case.
The Cabinet’s reluctance to convene has hampered efforts to handle a crisis that international authorities have labeled as one of the most serious financial meltdowns in global history.
Overnight on Wednesday, the national currency fell to an all-time low of 30,000 pounds to the US dollar, a 95 percent decline from its value in 2019.
Mikati said that Cabinet and parliament approval of the 2022 budget, which has already been postponed was a major requirement of the International Monetary Fund during negotiations for an assistance package viewed as critical to Lebanon’s economic recovery.
He added: “I believe that the Cabinet’s agenda and the availability of the budget make meeting more than essential, and I believe that no one will default on their national duties.”