BEIRUT — Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Gebran Bassil accused Premier-designate Najib Mikati of “not even trying” to form a new cabinet in an interview Friday night with Al-Manar television.
Here’s what we know:
• Bassil told the Hezbollah-run TV station that Mikati was avoiding forming a new cabinet, a month after he was designated to take the reins of a new government, in order to avoid having to tackle issues such as the ongoing legal actions against Banque du Liban Gov. Riad Salameh, the long-stalled probe into the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port explosion and the maritime border demarcation negotiations.
• “We warned that he would not form a government,” the FPM leader said, adding that he “blames [his] allies who designated Mikati” in the Jun. 23 consultations to pick a premier-designate.
• Mikati and President Michel Aoun, who is the founder of the FPM and father-in-law of Bassil, are at loggerheads over the formation of a cabinet, which needs the president’s sign-off. Mikati has reportedly sought to give the Energy Ministry portfolio to a figure not affiliated with the FPM, raising the ire of the party. Speaker Nabih Berri, a rival of the FPM, has also reportedly been backing Mikati in his tug-of-war with Aoun.
• In his Friday night interview, Bassil also said that he is not yet a candidate for the presidency to succeed Aoun, whose term ends on Oct. 31, triggering a Parliamentary vote sometime after Aug. 31 to replace him.
• The FPM leader added that he could be “either president or president-maker” and cautioned that a successor for Aoun must be elected in a timely-fashion to avoid a vacuum at the post of head of state. Bassil said that a caretaker cabinet would not be able to fill in for a missing president.
• Bassil also tackled the topic of ongoing negotiations on the maritime border demarcation between Lebanon and occupied Palestine, saying that he believes it is possible a deal can be reached before September of this year.
• Bassil, who is under US sanctions, accused Washington of working to prevent a solution to the electricity crisis in Lebanon and called on Hezbollah and the Energy Ministry to ensure supplies of “free Iranian fuel” to be used to provide state power.
• The US has publicly backed a plan for Egypt to provide natural gas for Lebanon’s power plants, while Jordan provides electricity, helping boost Lebanon’s beleaguered state electricity sector. These plans, first introduced last year, have since stalled.
BEIRUT — Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Gebran Bassil accused Premier-designate Najib Mikati of “not even trying” to form a new cabinet in an interview Friday night with Al-Manar television.Here’s what we know: • Bassil told the Hezbollah-run TV station that Mikati was avoiding forming a new cabinet, a month after he was designated to take the reins of a new government,...