BEIRUT — The Arab League called on Lebanon's Parliament Wednesday to elect a new president and "implement reforms" during the summit's closing ceremony in Algiers.
Lebanon is facing a double executive vacancy for the first time in its history, which comes amid a major economic collapse. Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, called on the pan-Arab organization for "cooperation," lamenting that his country "has changed."
The first day of Lebanon's presidential vacancy coincided with the opening of the Arab League summit, which was held for the first time in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mikati represented Lebanon at the summit, accompanied by a delegation including caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib and Energy Minister Walid Fayad.
"We renew our solidarity with the Lebanese Republic, in order to preserve its security and stability and support the measures taken to extend its sovereignty over its land and sea territories," said the Arab League in a statement issued at the end of the summit. The league stressed the need for "the current government to implement the required reforms and the parliament to elect a new president."
It did not, however, call for the formation of a new cabinet.
Lebanon was left without a president when Michel Aoun's six-year term ended on October 31. Lebanese MPs held four failed parliamentary sessions to elect a new head of state but still have not reached a consensus on the next president, as is customary in Lebanon.
On Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri abandoned the idea of convening political parties to a dialogue session on the presidential election, an initiative he previously advocated.
'Unifying the people'
During the summit, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan insisted "on the election of a new president able to unify the Lebanese people and work with the regional and international active parties to overcome the current crisis and implement the international resolutions, including those issued by the Security Council and the Arab League."
He also stressed the need "to respect the Taif Agreement," and assured his country is watching over "sovereignty, security and stability in Lebanon."
During a meeting with Mikati, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched a similar appeal. The election of a new president would lead to a "renaissance for Lebanon," Sisi said in a statement issued by the Mikati's press office.
Mikati also asked the Egyptian president to provide Lebanon with medicine and vaccines to combat the country's ongoing cholera epidemic and "President Sisi said he had given instructions for Cairo to respond to this request."
For his part, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmad Aboul Gheit warned Tuesday that a prolonged presidential vacancy in Lebanon "will have negative consequences" for the country.