On Monday, Najib Mikati, a billionaire businessman and former prime minister on two occasions, was elected as Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate following requisite parliamentary consultations with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
Mikati competed virtually unchallenged, receiving 72 votes, with former ambassador Nawaf Salam receiving just one vote. Forty-two MPs voted blank, and three MPs did not vote at all.
His appointment comes just 11 days after Saad al-Hariri resigned as prime minister-designate, following nine months of political deadlock and a dispute with President Aoun and his son-in-law MP Gebran Bassil.
“With the cooperation of the president, we will form a government according to the French initiative,” Mikati told the press after his appointment, referring to a road map of economic and structural reforms French President Emmanuel Macron introduced to Lebanon in August 2020.
If Mikati succeeds in forming a government, it would be his third stint as Lebanon’s prime minister. He was briefly caretaker prime minister for several months in April 2005, and then headed a full-fledged government in 2011 for three years.
Lebanon’s economy continues to crumble, with half the population living below the poverty line and a devaluating local currency that has lost more than 90 percent of its value.