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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Qatar’s amir congratulates Lebanon’s Aoun as new cabinet convenes

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The new government is currently waiting for the vote of confidence to kick-start its rescue plan.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani congratulated the Lebanese President General Michel Aoun for the formation of his country’s new government, state news agency reported.

The amir wished “the government success in its tasks to achieve the aspirations of the Lebanese people for development, progress and prosperity“, QNA said in a statement on Monday.

On Friday, a Lebanese presidency statement said designated PM Najib Mikati and President Aoun signed a decree to form a new government in the presence of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Read also: Qatar ‘ready to support Lebanon’ on all levels to end crisis: Lebanese presidency

The latest government formation comes after 13 months of a political deadlock that drove the country into an unprecedented economic and financial collapse. 

The Mikati government replaced a caretaker administration that resigned following the horrific 4 August explosion that rocked Beirut Port last year. 

On Monday, Lebanon’s new cabinet held its first meeting to discuss plans to rescue what’s left of the country, where authorities are witnessing the worst economic crisis in decades. 

In the first meeting, a drafting committee was formed to draft a ministerial statement, headed by Mikati and the deputy PM as well as the ministers of justice, energy, finance, culture, interior, administrative development, information, education, labour and agriculture.

The draft will then be submitted to the parliament for a vote of confidence for the new government.

During the meeting, President Aoun called for the resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund in order to aid the country as soon as possible. 

PM Mikati, who took office just last week, vowed to unlock aid and work on saving the country from its deep financial and economic crises. 

Last week, Mikati said resuming IMF talks remains a top priority, and to do so an agreement should be reached between all Lebanese political leaders.

“It is true that we don’t have a magic wand. The situation is very difficult,”  Lebanon’s billionaire-politician Mikati said during the meeting.

“We will tackle solutions to the fuel and medicine shortages in order to end the humiliation”, he added. 

Mikati’s 24-member government is now on a mission to immediately tackle the worsening economic crisis and find a solution for the medicine, fuel and food supplement shortages.

Finance minister said the crises-hit country would receive a total of $1.135 billion in IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

This will be in addition to the $860 million from 2021 and $275 million dating from 2009, the ministry said, adding that the sum would be deposited with the central bank on Thursday.

New Information Minister George Kordahi told the press that the PM is set to hold intense Cabinet meetings in efforts to resolve issues that directly affect citizens. 

Kordahi quoted Mikati as saying “people are looking for actions and are not concerned anymore about talks and promises.”

Mikati, Lebanon’s third-time PM and the country’s richest man, succeeded where PM-designate Saad Hariri, who was tasked to form a government, failed in reaching a political agreement for a new cabinet.

The lineup was met with scepticism and public disdain as many Lebanese argued that the same political parties that have been ruling the state for decades have brought their followers into the new cabinet.

However, the United Nations and world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading efforts to push for a political resolution in Lebanon, welcomed the new government.

Following the latest meeting, Aoun met with the Energy minister Walid Fayad to discuss potential ways to tackle the urgent situation as the country suffers from hours of power-cuts and fuel shortage. 

He previously noted that the government’s “concerns lie in prioritising solving the people’s current problems.

“We have huge responsibilities and we have to work on getting out of the current crisis,” he added.

Read also: Qatar welcomes formation of new Lebanese government after months of deadlock

For over a year now, the country has been facing a financial and economic meltdown with its currency losing 90 percent of its value, while petrol, diesel, and medicine shortages continue to plague the state. 

With the new government formation, the Lebanese pound edged lower, reaching 15,000 L.L. However, the current exchange rate is still fluctuating.

Just two years ago, one US dollar was traded for 1,500 L.L.

According to the UN’s latest study on Lebanon, three-quarters of the Lebanese population live in poverty.

Now that a government is formed, the Lebanese parliament is expected to meet for a vote of confidence for the Mikati government.


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