Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, has blamed the Christian political parties for the delay in implementing the reforms required by the international community and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He stressed that his government has completed draft reform laws and referred them to Parliament for endorsement, but the Christian factions refuse to convene, in light of the failure to elect a new president for the country.
Mikati acknowledged that electing a president constitutes “the beginning of the solution to the crises.” He said that Speaker Nabih Berri’s call on the various political blocs to hold a national dialogue was in everyone’s interest.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the caretaker Prime Minister said that Lebanon was a founding member of the UN and remained present and active, even if Lebanon’s crises are no longer a priority in light of other international events.
Mikati said he was confident that the main problem today in Lebanon was the election of a president. In this context, he expressed his belief that the “path drawn by Speaker Nabih Berri in his recent speech, which is based on a seven-day dialogue followed by continuous sessions to elect a president, is the best solution.”
“When the presidency remains vacant for a year, and all means have been exhausted to elect a president, the solution proposed by Berri becomes logical,” he stated.
In response to the opposition’s claim that Iran’s influence was preventing the election of a president, Mikati did not deny that Tehran-backed Hezbollah had a role in Lebanon, but asked: “Did the Lebanese meet and make a decision and the party oppose it?”
He pointed to the meetings of the Quintet committee on Lebanon, which includes representatives from the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, saying: “I hope that in their next session, they will call on [the Lebanese blocs] to respond to the dialogue initiative in order to end the presidential vacuum.”
Mikati said that the election of the president “will not completely solve Lebanon’s crisis, but will be the door or a window to form a new government and carry out the required reforms.”
He pointed to the decision of the Christian parties, led by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Lebanese Forces (LF), to boycott Parliament’s legislative sessions in light of the presidential vacuum, stressing that electing a president was their priority.
The premier emphasized that his government could not be blamed for the delay of reforms, saying that it had sent draft laws to Parliament for approval.
“How can the crisis be resolved in light of this [parliamentary] boycott?,” he asked.
On Hezbollah, he said the party was “cooperative and positive in terms of supporting most of the required reforms, but the Christian team does not see the need to address any urgent files before electing a president.”
Mikati criticized those who say that Saudi Arabia does not consider Lebanon as a priority. He said: “For me, Saudi Arabia remains, in all cases, the mother, father, and brother for Lebanon.”
“When you want to anticipate the future, you have to look to the past. [Saudi Arabia] has always supported the country. I am certain that the Kingdom will not abandon Lebanon,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.