Lebanon’s Prime Minister will call a cabinet meeting within days for the first time since October
Lebanon–For the first time in over three months, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati indicated on Wednesday that he will assemble the Cabinet in the coming days, potentially ending a dispute that has paralyzed the government during a financial crisis. Following a meeting with President Michel Aoun, Mikati remarked, “We will assemble Cabinet as soon as it receives the (2022) budget,” adding that this should happen “within the next two days.”
Since Oct. 12, the strong Iran-backed Hezbollah organization and its allies, the Amal movement, have refused to allow the Cabinet to convene, claiming that a judge probing the deadly 2020 explosion in Beirut harbor should be removed. The executive branch, according to Mikati, has no voice in the case.
The refusal of the Cabinet to convene has precluded efforts to solve a situation that international authorities have classified as one of the world’s worst financial meltdowns. Overnight Wednesday, the national currency fell to an all-time low of 30,000 pounds to the US dollar, a 95 percent drop from its value in 2019.
The International Monetary Fund, according to Mikati, is pressing for Cabinet and parliament approval of the 2022 budget, which has already been postponed, as part of discussions for an assistance package viewed as critical to Lebanon’s economic recovery. “I believe that (the Cabinet’s) agenda, as well as the presence of the budget, make it more than necessary for Cabinet to meet, and I do not believe that anyone will fail to fulfill their national (duties),” he said.