Lebanon’s PM, President sign decree to form new govt after over a year

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Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun signed a decree forming a new government in the presence of parliament speaker Nabih Berri on Friday, the presidency said in a statement.

Lebanon had been without a government for over a year as it descended further into economic meltdown.

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The presidency said on Twitter earlier that Mikati would meet Aoun, but without saying if they had reached an agreement on a government.

One official source told Reuters a cabinet line-up Mikati would present to Aoun was promising. Political sources said there had been intensive contacts through the night to try to reach an agreement.

The failure to agree a cabinet has left Lebanon without any effective government as the country has sunk deeper into a crisis which the World Bank has described as one of the sharpest implosions of modern times.

Mikati, a politician-businessman who was designated prime minister in July, has previously said he would seek to re-start negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) once his government was formed.

The cabinet formation has been derailed repeatedly by disagreements among political factions over the distribution of cabinet seats.

Mikati is the third prime minister-designate to attempt to form the government since the government resigned over a year ago in the aftermath of the Beirut port blast amidst the worsening economic meltdown.

Mikati was designated after Saad al-Hariri, a former prime minister, abandoned his efforts.

Aoun’s political adversaries have accused him and his political party, the Free Patriotic Movement, of seeking effective veto power in the new government by demanding a third of the seats. Aoun has denied this repeatedly.

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