Beirut, 11 Jumadil Awwal 1434/23 March 2013 (MINA) – Lebanon’s prime minister Najib Mikati has resigned after deadlock in his cabinet over preparations for a parliamentary election and a dispute over extending the term of a senior security official.
The outgoing prime minister has called for the formation of a national unity government, Aljazeera reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
“I announce the resignation of the government, hoping that this will open the way for the major political blocs to take responsibility and come together to bring Lebanon out of the unknown,” Mikati told a news conference on Friday (22/3).
Shia group Hezbollah and its allies, which backed the government, blocked the creation of a body to supervise parliamentary elections which is due in June and opposed extending the term of a senior security official.
The cabinet failed on Friday to extend the term of Major General Ashraf Rifi, head of Lebanon’s internal security forces, who is due to retire early next month. Rifi, like Mikati, is a Sunni Muslim from Tripoli.
Mikati was appointed prime minister in 2011 after the Hezbollah and its allies brought down the unity government of Saad al-Hariri, son of former prime minister Rafik Hariri who was assassinated in 2005.
During his two years in office he has sought to insulate his country from the civil war in neighbouring Syria which deepened Lebanon’s own sectarian tensions and led to street battles in the northern city of Tripoli.
Lebanese politicians have yet to agree arrangements for the poll. The president and the prime minister said they were not prepared to chair any cabinet meeting if the supervisory body was not on the agenda, ministers said, effectively halting further cabinet meetings.
The Syrian fighting, a tide of Syrian refugees pouring into Lebanon and the country’s own domestic turmoil have also caused a sharp slowdown in Lebanon’s economy and a 67 percent surge in its budget deficit last year. (T/P01/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)