PM Mikati Government Officially Enters Caretaker Status
The Lebanese Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Mikati has entered into its ‘caretaker status’, following the May 15th Parliamentary Elections. Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun stated, “In accordance with Item 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, related to the cases during which the government will be considered resigned, specifically sub-item ‘e’, and considering that the beginning of the term of the Parliament falls on [Sunday], the president thanks the prime minister and the ministers and asks that the cabinet continue in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed.” [L’Orient Today]
According to the International Monetary Fund, Lebanon will be bankrupt by no later than the first quarter of 2023 and, at this late stage, only an IMF deal can save the country. In order to meet the offer stipulated in the staff agreement between the IMF and the government of PM Mikati, bold leadership is required of this caretaker government to pass a number of the prerequisite measures. Likewise, the new parliament must join in a coalition of those willing to pass the legislation necessary to solidifying the IMF deal. There is no time to waste.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Lebanon’s Elections Promise Change and Reforms Dale Gavlak analyzes the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons within the current political context following the recent Parliamentary elections in Lebanon. Gavlak makes note of the gains made by Lebanese Forces (LF), which won 19 Parliamentary seats, in contrast to the loss of seats by the Hezbollah-allied majority. Referencing the LF’s stance on the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons, Lebanon’s sovereignty, and the disarmament of all militias across the board, Gavlak situates the statements of LF Head Samir Geagea alongside other analytical perspectives – including from Hezbollah’s own Secretary General – questioning the feasibility and merit of addressing such a contentious issue amid the dire need for a more unified and effective Lebanese government to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Lebanese Civil War from 1975-1990. [VOA]
Concerning the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons, herein lies the dilemma: where to start? Regarding the new parliament, what will their priorities be, and how will their agenda change depending on the election of the Speaker of Parliament, currently held by Hezbollah’s ally, Nabih Berri? There are no straight lines between winning an election and ruling in a coalition government. Coalition-building is desperately needed and, rather than addressing contentious issues that may undermine this process first, the new parliament would be better positioned by focusing on the essential work of rebuilding people’s livelihoods and trust.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Cabinet Approves Financial Recovery Plan According to the financial recovery plan put forward by the Cabinet in their last official session as a fully empowered government on May 20th, the Lebanese government envisions, “canceling ‘a large part’ of the central bank’s foreign currency obligations to commercial banks and dissolving non-viable banks by November.” [Reuters]
While a good first step years ago, this current version of the recovery plan leaves many holes that need filling before it can meet the needs of any banking sector reform. By adopting it just before entering caretaker status, the Council of Ministers have now put it on the agenda for discussion in Parliament, which has so far avoided taking actions that run afoul of the banks to which many MP’s have personal financial ties. This step is one worth airing, as it gives the incoming government a blueprint for moving forward on restoring fiscal stability in the country – whenever the new government gets formed, that is.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.