BEIRUT — Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Monday that "it would not be logical, or even reasonable, to elect a president who would antagonize Hezbollah," in a lengthy interview with the French daily Le Figaro.
Lebanon has been without a president since Oct. 31, 2022, when former President Michel Aoun's term expired.
Mikati also talked about his trip to New York, where he is currently representing Lebanon at the 78th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Not to interfere, but...
"I have no intention of interfering in the presidential election, but it would not be logical, or even reasonable, to elect a president who would antagonize Hezbollah," Najib Mikati told Le Figaro. "Because it is one of the main parties of the Shiite community, which represents almost a third of the country's population."
Hezbollah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement have thus far backed Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh for the presidency.
At the end of August, Berri proposed an initiative to hold open electoral sessions in Parliament, provided they be preceded by an extended dialogue that would bring together the heads of the parliamentary groups for seven days.
"I will ask the world powers to use their influence to convince the different Lebanese parties to finally elect a president," during the UN General Assembly, Mikati added.
"Lebanon has all the means for its resurrection; it's up to its political class to make it possible. The state exists and could function perfectly well," he continued.
For the first time in its history, Lebanon is experiencing a total power executive vacuum, with no president and a resigned government. Mikati's opponents accuse him of assuming the powers of the presidency amid the vacancy.
'Supporting us in the face of the migration crisis'
Asked by Le Figaro what he intends to ask the international community in New York, Mikati replied: "To support us in the face of the migratory crisis. We are already hosting over a million Syrian refugees, and hundreds more migrants are arriving in Lebanon every day, upsetting the country's economic, demographic and confessional balance."
"The reception of migrants in Lebanon, provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has the problem of constituting a strong financial incentive to illegal immigration, without dealing with the problem at the source. UNHCR should negotiate directly with the Syrian authorities," he added.
Mikati also said that the United Nations should help Lebanon "to demarcate a clear land border" with Israel, despite the fact that Beirut and Tel Aviv are still technically in a state of war/.
The caretaker prime minister also held talks with UN Secretary-General Antonió Guterres.
According to a UN statement seen by L'Orient-Le Jour's New York correspondent, Guterres "underlined the continued commitment of the United Nations to support the Lebanese people. The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude for Lebanon's generosity in welcoming refugees while highlighting efforts to find solutions for their safe and dignified return."
The text concludes as follows: "The Secretary-General and Mikati discussed the importance of Security Council resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006) and UNIFIL's contribution to maintaining stability. These resolutions require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon.
According to several Lebanese media reports, the Group of Five (France, United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt) also met Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the Lebanese situation, with a specific emphasis on the presidential election. No official statement was released following the meeting.
BEIRUT — Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Monday that "it would not be logical, or even reasonable, to elect a president who would antagonize Hezbollah," in a lengthy interview with the French daily Le Figaro. Lebanon has been without a president since Oct. 31, 2022, when former President Michel Aoun's term expired. Mikati also talked about his trip to New York, where...