Efforts are underway to convince former Prime Minister Najib Mikati to accept his designation to form a new government, a well-informed source said, adding that the former premier was awaiting answers to “fundamental questions” to avoid going through the same obstacles that forced Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to abandon the mission.
The source, which is close to Mikati, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Mikati was showing a positive attitude, but was aware of the difficulty of the task, in which Hariri failed due to his disagreements with President Michel Aoun.
In this regard, the political source underlined that Mikati “adheres to the same constitutional constants that Hariri refused to abandon during his designation.”
The politician added that the former prime minister had rejected Aoun’s attempt to bypass the powers of the prime minister, stressing that his position had not changed.
Therefore, he will neither take any step before obtaining answers to the fundamental questions he raised, nor will he disregard the unanimous position of his colleagues of former prime ministers, according to the source.
In the same context, Ahmad Hariri, Secretary-General of Al-Mustaqbal Movement, said that Aoun’s main goal was to secure the interests of his son-in-law, MP Gibran Bassil, in any new government.
The formation of the government “will not be easy unless there is a change in the sick mind,” he noted.
Hariri stressed that the parliamentary bloc would take the appropriate decision on naming the prime minister by Monday, noting that MP Faisal Karami was “not closer to us than MP Najib Mikati, and we contacted him to reflect on how to preserve the constitution.”
On the possibility of re-nominating the head of Al-Mustaqbal Bloc, he said: “There is no point in designating Hariri again,” adding that Bassil had asked Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah to resolve the government nodes in order to hint that the problem lied with Hezbollah.
Ahmad Hariri stressed that the country needed a fundamental dialogue about its future, with the participation of representatives of the uprising.
Lebanon’s interest is to be part of the Arab system, he underlined, pointing out that it was too early to talk about any coalitions in the parliamentary elections, but asserted that there would not be any alliance with Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement.
In the same context, MP Michel Daher expected that the designation would take place but not the formation of a new government.
“President Michel Aoun will not offer to President Najib Mikati what he did not give to Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Mikati will not accept anything less than what Hariri requested. We will witness a quick withdrawal, followed by a sharp collapse of all the foundations of the state,” Daher warned.
In turn, member of Bassil’s Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc, MP Eddie Maalouf, said that the bloc would discuss all options to designate a new prime minister.
He pointed to the possibility of nominating candidate Nawaf Salam, saying: “The name of Salam was proposed last time, and we have not rejected it. Even if Hezbollah is opposed to it, we do not necessarily have the same opinion.”
MP Wael Abu Faour, a member of the Democratic Gathering, which includes representatives of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and its allies, said that Mikati was among the serious names proposed to assume the premiership, but added that the latter was still hesitant because of his fear of going through the same obstacles that Hariri faced.
Abu Faour stressed that informal consultations were ongoing with the participation of local and external parties, to reach a minimum level of understanding. He noted that the PSP had no objection to naming Mikati, “but the problem lies in the form of the government, especially since previous experiences with Bassil are not encouraging.”
The deputy said that Nawaf Salam could be among the names proposed for forming the government, especially as civil society groups are calling for his designation.
The Strong Republic bloc is holding an extraordinary meeting headed by the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, to discuss its decision on the designation.