Billionaire telecommunications tycoon Najib Mikati was appointed on Monday to form Lebanon’s next government, giving him the challenge of trying to pull the tiny Mediterranean country out of a deteriorating economic maelstrom.
Mr. Mikati, 65, is the third politician authorized by Parliament to form a government since massive explosion Almost a year ago in the port of Beirut, more than 200 people were killed and led to Cabinet responsible at the time of resignation.
Since the August explosion, the country has continued to sink, with frequent protests against the political elite, chronic traffic jams, and the currency losing 90 percent of its value, leading to sharp protests. Lack of fuel, medicine and electricityكهرب.
In a public statement after his appointment as Prime Minister, Mr. Mikati warned that easing Lebanon’s problems would not be easy and called for unity among the Lebanese.
“By myself, I don’t have a magic wand, nor can I work miracles,” he said.
Comparing the collapse in Lebanon to a raging fire that was spreading daily and threatening people’s homes, he said he decided to “try to limit the spread of those fires.”
But before revealing any plans, Mr. Mikati must come up with a government that can receive adequate support from a range of political parties in Lebanon’s sectarian-based political system.
Mr. Mikati has decades of working as a businessman and politician. A company he founded with his brother Taha has invested in real estate, telecommunications and other businesses around the world, giving Mr. Mikati a net worth of $2.7 billion, according to Forbes.
He held the position of Prime Minister twice before, once in a temporary position after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 and once from June 2011 to May 2013. He also held several ministerial portfolios and is a current member of the Lebanese Parliament. .
It was not immediately clear what steps Mr. Mikati would take to stem the crisis, but in his speech on Monday, he said he had “international guarantees”, indicating that he had consulted with foreign countries, including the United States, that seek stability in Lebanon.
He also said that he would work to implement the framework presented by France, which called for a new technocratic government that would implement reforms and cooperate with the International Monetary Fund.
The previous government failed to make progress on the French plan, and talks with the International Monetary Fund over a possible aid package have stalled for several months.
A number of politicians and parties from across the spectrum have expressed their support for Mr. Mikati, including Mr. Hariri and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed armed group and political party considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries.
In a possible sign of optimism, the Lebanese pound rose on Wednesday to trade at around 17,000 to the dollar from 22,000.
Before the country’s economic crisis began in the fall of 2019, the pound had been pegged at around 1,500 to the dollar for decades. Its collapse destroyed the salaries of many Lebanese and drove the prices of goods from abroad to skyrocket in a country where almost everything is imported.
Howayda Saad contributed to this report.