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New Lebanese PM Mikati seeks international support, in the face of challenges

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati holds the cabinet line up after meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda. (Reuters)
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati holds the cabinet line up after meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda. (Reuters)
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11 Sep 2021 08:09:59 GMT9
11 Sep 2021 08:09:59 GMT9

Asharq News

DUBAI: The new Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, said during an exclusive interview with Asharq News on Friday that there are four fundamental files at the top of his government’s agenda, which are: “confronting the Covid-19 pandemic, the reconstruction of the Beirut port, general reforms and parliamentary elections.”

Mikati told Asharq: “We have 8 months of hard work to achieve what can be achieved,” noting that “talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)” will be one of his government’s tasks.

He added that “We will start addressing international bodies and funds, in order to be open once again to other countries, after a break in the recent period.”

In response to a question regarding the first Arab figure he will communicate with after the announcement of the new government’s formation, Mikati said: “We will work to reconnect with our Arab entourage. I will contact everyone, especially the GCC countries, to stop the recession in Lebanon.”

He continued: “We need quick actions and I will ask for the help of my brothers in the Arab and GCC countries. We are keen to coordinate and cooperate with all Arab countries and we cannot but have a close relationship with them.”

Mikati added: “I am fully aware of the remarks of some Arab countries, but Lebanon can only be their safe country and I promise them that.”

Regarding the obstacles he faced during the formation of the government, Mikati said: “Whoever wishes to disrupt the government, shall stay out of it,” continuing: “I assure that no party has the (blocking) third, whether it is persuasive or otherwise, I know the structure of my government very well and we will be working as one team.”

Concerning his economic reform plan, Lebanon’s new PM said: “this plan is ready, however, I can only present it after the cabinet’s approval.”

“We have a rescue plan and will work on achieving it. It includes eight essential clauses for reforms,” he added. 

As for choosing the new Minister of Finance, Youssef Khalil, given that he is a member of the controversial financial engineering at the Lebanese central bank (Banque du Liban), Mikati said: “the Minister of Finance has the expertise in all financial matters. He will not be making decisions alone, but we fully trust him to make change.”

He stressed that “the real responsibility lies with politicians who did not undertake any reforms. They were bickering and blaming the central bank, thus, BDL is not the only one responsible for the current crisis.”

Mikati noted that he will seek to “work on stopping Lebanon’s free fall” and considered that his country “needs everything”, indicating that “change in Lebanon might need time to yield results.”

He said: “we need to work seriously in order to fill the gap, following 13 months of political disruption” and noted that “every Lebanese is well-aware of the current crisis that requires solutions.”

With regard to the International Monetary Fund’s aid, Mikati said: “We hope to make progress in talks with the IMF”. He pointed out the need to implement the fund’s conditions that include “the liberalization of the exchange rate and stopping the lifting of subsidies”, clarifying that this is currently happening “as we do not have any possibilities for support.”

Mikati stressed that “he will work on a satisfactory agreement with the IMF, provided that it is good for Lebanon.”

He added: “we will work on what can be rescued of Lebanon and solve the crises as soon as possible. I am not asking for a grace period of three months or 100 days, but I am asking to start working immediately in order to fix the living conditions in the country.”

Regarding the next parliamentary elections, Mikati announced that they will be held on time: “no one can object the elections that must take place on time and without hesitation.”

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