Lebanon PM says no cabinet for blast anniversary

AFP , Monday 2 Aug 2021

Lebanon's newly designated prime minister Najib Mikati said Monday that a cabinet lineup would not be announced by mid-week to coincide with the anniversary of the deadly Beirut port blast

prime minister Najib Mikati
Lebanese Prime Minister-designated Najib Mikati, speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, July 26, 2021 (AP Photo)

Lebanon's newly designated prime minister Najib Mikati said Monday that a cabinet lineup would not be announced by mid-week to coincide with the anniversary of the deadly Beirut port blast.

 
"Frankly, with regard to the government, I was hoping the pace would be faster," he said after meeting President Michel Aoun, whom he said he would now see again on Thursday.
 
The government of Hassan Diab, who is still caretaker prime minister, resigned en masse days after the August 4 explosion that killed more than 200 people last year.
 
Mikati, who has already been prime minister twice in the past and is also the country's richest man, was designated on July 26 to form a government after Saad Hariri threw in the towel.
 
He said he had hoped to clinch a deal before the anniversary of the explosion, but media reports said Lebanon's political parties are still bickering over portfolios in much the same way that has blocked a new government over the past year.
 
The institutional vacuum is holding up a potential financial rescue plan for Lebanon, which defaulted on its debt last year and has since sunk into what the World Bank has described as one of the world's worst crises since the mid-19th century.
 
A conference this week needs to gather $357 million in aid to meet the most urgent needs of the battered country's population, France said Monday.
 
Co-hosted by President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, the conference coincides with the first anniversary of the blast on Wednesday.
 
"The situation has worsened," Macron's office said.
 
Citing a UN estimate, his office said Lebanon's new needs amounted to $357 million and concerned food security, education, health and clean water supply.
 
The designation last month of 65-year-old Mikati, seen by many as a symbol of Lebanon's corrupt oligarchy, was met with scepticism both at home and abroad.
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