BEIRUT — A cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday morning to appoint the next Banque du Liban (BDL) governor failed due to a lack of quorum.
Current BDL Governor Riad Salameh, who has held his post since 1993, is set to end his term on July 31.
According to L’Orient Today’s political correspondent, ministers from the Marada Movement, Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) boycotted the meeting.
A consultative meeting nevertheless took place between Mikati and the ministers present, the state-run National News Agency reported.
This morning's cabinet session was scheduled following an agreement between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
However, the main Christian parties, as well as Hezbollah, are opposed to appointing a new BDL governor — a power usually reserved for the country's president — during a presidential vacuum.
Lebanon has been without a head of state since October 2022, when Michel Aoun's term ended. Critics of Berri and Mikati accuse them of taking on certain presidential powers in the meantime.
Appointed in 2020, BDL's four deputy governors Wassim Mansouri, Bachir Yakzan, Salim Chahine and Alexandre Moradian have urged the government to appoint a new central bank head before the end of Salameh's term. They met twice this week with Mikati.
In the event of a vacancy, Wassim Mansouri, who is Shiite, would replace Salameh, although this post is traditionally reserved for a Maronite. The deputy governors have threatened to resign if a successor is not duly appointed.
Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami said on Tuesday that the government was not in a position to appoint a successor to Salameh.
Salameh is targeted by a series of judicial probes in Lebanon and Europe for alleged corruption. He constantly denies these accusations.
Cabinet is due to meet next Monday to discuss the preliminary draft budget for 2023, which is intended to organize public expenditure and revenue for the current year. Last Monday, caretaker Information Minister Ziad Makari announced, at the end of a first meeting devoted to the study of this text, that there would be "successive meetings concerning the budget."
At the end of the consultative meeting, Mikati said that the government had "today an opportunity to resolve, on a temporary basis, an issue linked to the financial and monetary situation."
"I regret that the political calculations of the parties concerned within the government have taken priority," Mikati added in a statement, calling on each party to "assume responsibility for its decision."
Mikati affirmed that he would "continue to exercise his constitutional and national duty, and to work seriously for the proper functioning of public institutions, in particular Banque du Liban."
"The government is not responsible for the presidential vacancy or its repercussions," he concluded.
In the afternoon, Mikati met with the four BDL deputy governors for the second consecutive day, following the failure of the cabinet meeting.
"The current period requires the collaboration of all to preserve financial and monetary stability," said Mikati in a statement issued after the meeting. "We bear on our shoulders a national responsibility if a new governor is not appointed."
He remained assured that the government "will collaborate with Parliament to adopt the laws necessary for the proper functioning of the institutions."
In remarks reported by local outlets, Mikati “urged members of the governing body of the central bank not to resign. In case of a vacancy, the first deputy will take over, but if there is any reluctance, then the second deputy should take over.”
Reporting contributed by Hoda Chedid.