Lebanon gets a new government, for the first time since last year’s deadly port explosion

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire who has already served as prime minister twice, will head a cabinet of ministers that will preside over an economic downturn that the World Bank has experienced since the mid-19th century. Considered one of the worst in the world.

The Lebanese Presidency said Mikati met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Babada Presidential Palace, where he signed a decree to form the new government in the presence of parliament speaker Nabih Beri.

Addressing the nation after the meeting, Mikati said he would try to “prevent the collapse of the country”.

“The situation is difficult, it is very difficult,” said Mikati, when his voice choked during an emotional speech. “Although it is not impossible if we unite… our priority is to soothe the suffering of the Lebanese people,” he said, adding: “I will not miss the opportunity to open doors with the Arab world. Today is what Lebanon needs.” of the Arab world.”

The new government includes George Kiradhi, previously the host of the popular television show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and Yusuf Khalil, a controversial finance minister. Khalil was the director of financial operations at the Lebanese Central Bank and the architect of a financial program that sought to attract deposits by offering high interest rates.

The program contributed to a banking crisis that has decimated deposits across the country.

The new health minister, Firas Abiad, heads the first public hospital that received coronavirus patients and took a leading role in tackling the pandemic.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Buhabib was Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 1990.

Lebanon is facing a serious financial crisis that has resulted in the currency losing more than 90% of its value. Following Friday’s announcement, the Lebanese lira appreciated from the 19,000 lira to the dollar on the black market and to around $15,000.

The cabinet is expected to come under massive international pressure to introduce economic reforms, ensure the 2022 parliamentary elections are on schedule and resume talks with the International Monetary Fund.

Mikati was the third politician tasked with forming the cabinet after former Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned. In the wake of a port explosion Which killed more than 200 people and devastated entire neighborhoods in the capital.
A few days after the explosion, French President Emmanuel Macron Led an initiative to broker a political proposal in Lebanon to prevent the collapse of the state.

Prominent politicians at the time promised to form a government within weeks, but a series of unsuccessful negotiations between rival groups put the formation process on a collision course, accelerating the rapidly worsening economic crisis, which left the currency lost more than 90% of its pre-crisis. price and led to severe fuel and drug shortages.

Mikati and his brother, and main business partner, Taha are the richest men in Lebanon. In July, Norwegian telecom operator Telenor sold its Myanmar operations to Mikati’s company, M1 Group, for $105 million.


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