Lebanese President Meets Businessman Mikati, Set to be Designated Premier

In this photo released by Lebanese government, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, left, meets with former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, at the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, July 26, 2021. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanese Official Government via AP)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday held a brief meeting with leading businessman Najib Mikati, set to receive the backing of a majority of parliamentarians later in the day to try to form a government.

Mikati has been prime minister twice before and unlike many Lebanese leaders, he does not hail from a political bloc or dynasty.

But like the previous nominee, Saad al-Hariri, he faces major challenge in navigating Lebanon's power-sharing structure to secure agreement on a cabinet to tackle a crippling financial crisis.

While Lebanon has been run by a caretaker administration for nearly a year, since a huge blast devastated large parts of Beirut, its currency has collapsed, jobs have vanished and banks have frozen accounts. The economic freefall is Lebanon's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

A senior political source said on Sunday that Hezbollah, a heavily armed Shi'ite Islamist movement which Washington deems a terrorist group, was set to nominate Mikati, and that most of the main parliamentary blocs supported the nomination.

Among Mikati's endorsers was Hariri, who abandoned his effort to form a new government last week after nearly 10 months of failing to agree its makeup with Aoun.

In Lebanon's political system, the post of prime minister has to be held by a Sunni Muslim, while the presidency is held by a Maronite Christian.

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