The President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Aoun, on Monday commissioned the wealthy politician and businessman Najib Mikati, to form a new government after parliamentary support and consultations.
Parliament approved, by 72 votes, to assign Mikati to head and form the government, once again, after Saad Hariri and Mustafa Adib were unable to do so.
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, 65, said, “He does not have a magic wand,” adding that he is counting on concerted efforts to succeed in the task of “extinguishing the expanding fire in Lebanon,” as he described it.
The appointment of Mikati, the wealthy communications magnate, came after nine months of political stalemate between President Aoun and the leader of the Future Movement, Saad Hariri.
The former Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, resigned from the position last August, and has since been heading a caretaker government at a time when Lebanon is witnessing a continuous deterioration of living and economic conditions.
Who is Najib Mikati?
Mikati was born on November 24, 1955 and completed his studies at the American University of Beirut and continued his postgraduate studies in France and Harvard University in the United States.
He started building his telecommunications company in the midst of the civil war in Lebanon from 1975 to 1990. He sold his stake in his telecom company to MTN Telecom Group in South Africa for $5.5 billion in 2006.
In 2007 he established the M1 Group, which owns and manages diversified investments. The most recent of which was its purchase, this month, of the operating stake of the Norwegian telecom operator Telenor in Myanmar for $105 million.
He assumed the position of Prime Minister temporarily in April of 2005 after the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.
He held this position for a period of three months to oversee the parliamentary elections, which were won by the coalition led by the Future Movement led by Hariri.
He appointed the same prime minister again in June 2011 and resigned in May 2013 amid deep polarization among the country’s political camps due to the conflict in Syria, where infighting in his government has led to a complex political impasse. He remained in the position temporarily until February 2014.
He held the portfolio of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in three successive governments between 1998 and 2004.
He was also elected in 2000 as a representative of the city of Tripoli until 2005, then was re-elected in 2009 as a representative of the Tripoli constituency.
Mikati is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut, and the advisory board of Harris College at the University of Chicago, in addition to his membership on the advisory board of the International Crisis Group, and the presidency of the Middle East Foresight Forum.
Mikati is considered the richest man in Lebanon and one of the richest people in the Middle East, with a fortune of $2.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
In 2019, Lebanon’s public prosecutor indicted Mikati, a Sunni Muslim politician who hails from Tripoli, one of northern Lebanon’s poorest cities, with illicit enrichment – a charge Mikati denies.
Unlike many Lebanese politicians, Mikati does not come from a long-established and influential family in Lebanese politics, which makes him a consensual candidate par excellence.