Lebanon’s Mikati could seek technocrat govt | Pakistan Today

Lebanon’s Mikati could seek technocrat govt

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s prime minister designate Najib Mikati said he will seek to form a cabinet of technocrats if defeated rival Saad al-Hariri’s supporters reject his call for them to join his government.
Mikati, a wealthy businessman who was nominated with the support of Iran-backed Hezbollah, started talks on Thursday to form a government to succeed Hariri, who was brought down by Hezbollah and its allies two weeks ago. The Shi’ite militant group expects its members to be accused by a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of Rafik al-Hariri, the outgoing premier’s father.
Hezbollah denies any role and brought down the government when Hariri rejected its demands that Lebanon cut ties with the tribunal. The choice of Mikati was seen as a victory for Hezbollah, shifting the balance of power in Lebanon to its regional allies Syria and Iran. But the centrist lawmaker said he would govern through consensus and still hoped Hariri supporters would join.
“I am keen, and I have asked, and I insist that they participate,” he told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday. “And it is up to them to decide if they participate or not.” If he failed to bring all factions into his government, Mikati said he would prefer to form a cabinet of technocrats rather than one which which comprised only Hezbollah and its “March 8” allies.
“In this case, I go to technocrat,” he said. Hariri has said his Future Movement would not serve in a government headed by a March 8 candidate and has shown no sign of changing his stance. The two men met briefly on Wednesday but television footage showed them sitting in frosty silence. Mikati said he would not rush forming the government since the constitution sets no deadline.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Washington was monitoring the formation of Mikati’s cabinet and that the emergence of a Hezbollah-controlled government would “clearly have an impact” on US relations with Lebanon. Asked if Hezbollah, which had two ministers in Hariri’s “unity” government, was seeking cabinet positions in his government, Mikati said he expected to hear a formal position from the Shi’ite militant group in Thursday’s talks.
“Whatever I believe Hezbollah can do in the interests of Lebanon, I will not hesitate one second to ask Hezbollah to do it,” he said in the interview in a heavily guarded apartment block in central Beirut. “The burden is not light, it is heavy and I need the support of everybody,” he said. “I will see if they want a minister in the cabinet. In the consultation…it will give me an idea of the kind of government I want to do,” he said.
Mikati declined to say whether he believed Lebanon should withdraw judges and funding for the UN-backed tribunal, as Hezbollah and its allies have demanded. “We will see, through dialogue, what we want to do with the tribunal,” he said. “It’s not just my point of view…Every (move) we have to take in Lebanon, it has to be on a consensual basis.” Washington other Western powers have insisted that the work of the tribunal continue.
France said on Tuesday the new government must “respect international commitments made by Lebanon, and particularly for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon”.



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