Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said Thursday that resigning was still out of the question for now, against the backdrop of a stalled government formation process.
“Since the first day of the designation, I said that I was coming on a rescue mission, and I am not here just to be designated or to abandon efforts,” Mikati told Al Arabiya English in an interview from Beirut.
International calls have mounted for Lebanese leaders to form a new government. The crisis-hit nation has been without a fully functioning government since the Beirut port blast in August of last year. The small nation is in dire need of reform and a conditioned IMF program relief package.
Over the past few months Lebanon has suffered of hourslong electricity cuts along with fuel and medicine shortages mainly caused by the depletion of country’s central bank reserves.
The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and leading international countries have said they will not provide assistance to the Lebanese state until reforms are implemented to combat rampant corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Mikati added that he had not set a deadline for government formation.
“I always said that there was no constitutional deadline that defines the work of the designated prime minister, but, certainly, the deadline is not open indefinitely,” he said.
The two-time former premier said that as long as he feels that he can proceed with the mission and has not reached a “dead end,” he would continue to seek to form a government.
“Every decision I take will be based on an assessment of its repercussions on the general situation, and a resignation remains an option in light of the reality and its implications on the country.
“If resigning was a good option for the country, I would not hesitate to do so. But, so far, this option is out of the question,” Mikati said.
The formation of the government in Lebanon has been a complex process for decades due to the need to appease sectarian, domestic and regional factors.
“From here, this process takes time, but what I can say is that the obstacles so far are normal.”
Mikati and Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, are constitutionally tasked with forming the government.
And despite reports that there are tensions between the two, Mikati said the pair were determined to find a solution and agree on a new cabinet lineup.
“I am aware of my responsibility in this matter and that forming a government is better than not,” Mikati added.
Earlier in the day, Aoun’s office released a statement that appeared to be an implicit jab at Mikati.
The statement touched on “the unwillingness to form a government, the failure to carry out reforms, the refusal to fight corruption, the damage to the state’s credibility, and the starvation and impoverishment of the Lebanese.”
Political analysts and observers viewed this statement to be addressed to the Prime Minister-designate Mikati.
Mikati commented on the statement saying that his team had received formal clarifications from the presidency that it was not intended for him but rather a response to all political parties.
“Personally, I will not stop [working] due to bickering and differences because what concerns me is the formation of the government and narrowing the differences [between political sides]. In my statement this afternoon, before the Baabda statement, I said that I was proceeding with the formation process according to the principles I set from the first day and with openness to cooperation and consultation with the president. In return, I look forward to constructive cooperation away from the conditions and methods that have become norms [in recent years],” Mikati added.
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