Wednesday, May 18

Billionaire Najib Mikati, appointed as Prime Minister to form a Government in Lebanon

The two-time Lebanese president Najib Mikati has been appointed this Monday by the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, to form a government after a series of parliamentary consultations in which he has received the support of the main political forces, ten days after the resignation of his predecessor, Saad Hariri. Mikati, a billionaire businessman, now faces the arduous task of forming a government amid the worst economic crisis in the history of the Arab country.

The politician, a moderate pro-Syrian who was Minister of Public Labor and also Prime Minister on two occasions in 2005 and 2011, has been convinced that he has the “capacities” and “external guarantees” to fulfill his mission, stating that he would not have accepted the position had it not been so.

Mikati has referred to the serious deterioration of the situation in the country in recent weeks, where the economic crisis unleashed in 2019 has caused a serious shortage of basic products and continuous power cuts.

“I have taken this step when I see the situation and when you see that the fire expands and expands until it reaches everyone’s houses, we have to be all together,” he said in his brief televised speech after meeting with Aoun. “It’s time someone put out the fire,” he promised.

This billionaire businessman, owner of a successful investment firm among others, takes over from Hariri, who resigned on July 15 after more than nine months without being able to form a government due to disagreements over the list of ministers with the head of state.

The appointment came after an extensive day of consultations that lasted from early in the morning until late in the afternoon at Aoun’s residence, where Mikati has received the support of a large part of the main political groups in the country.

However, as expected, the powerful Christian party Free Patriotic Movement founded by Aoun has not supported his candidacy and has chosen not to name anyone, as reported on his Twitter account by the current leader of the formation and son-in-law of the Lebanese president , Gebran Basil.

The moderate and prosyrian Mikati, born in the northern city of Tripoli in 1955, has already served as prime minister on two other occasions, the first in 2005 at the head of a short-lived government appointed with the aim of ending the crisis unleashed by the murder that same year of former leader Rafic Hariri.

In January 2011, he was again appointed to the post after gaining the support of the Shiite group Hezbollah, but it took about five months to form his Executive, in which more than half of the portfolios were finally awarded to allies of the political movement. and most influential armed forces in Lebanon.

A consensus prime minister

Mikati, Minister of Public Work and Transport in three different governments between 1998 and 2004, ran into opposition at that time from the Sunni Saad Hariri, Rafic’s son and also a former Prime Minister, and his supporters, who staged violent protests against his collaboration. with Hezbollah.

However, the businessman had been part of the Executive of Hariri Sr. and in 2009 he was elected as a deputy for Tripoli as part of the son’s list.

Appointed prime minister for the second time in 2011, he resigned less than two years after forming a government, in March 2013, and remained in the post on an interim basis for another year, in a country already in crisis and now, in 2021, he will return. to try to save Lebanon from impending economic collapse and political paralysis.

A fortune of 2.7 billion dollars

Mikati received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut, but also took courses at the prestigious Harvard University. Over the years he has been linked to the academic world and has collaborated with various research centers.

However, he is best known for his business with his brother Taha, with whom he initially worked in the construction sector in countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon itself.

In 1989 they formed the “Mikati Hermanos” satellite communications company, which in 1992 partnered with France Telecom to operate one of Lebanon’s mobile phone companies, until the government revoked its license years later and handed it over to a Kuwaiti company. .

With his brother he also founded the M1 Group, an investment firm with shares in important companies in various sectors in Europe, America and Africa, and the parent company of seven companies that invest in capital, real estate projects, fashion or financial technology. Forbes magazine estimates Mikati’s current assets at about $ 2.7 billion.