NNA - The second round of binding parliamentary consultations, which was initiated by President Michel Aoun, ended this afternoon. Consultations concluded at quarter past five in the afternoon, and led to the nomination of Premier Najib Mikati to form the next government with a majority of 54 votes, Ambassador Nawaf Salam obtaining 25 votes, Prime Minister Saad Hariri receiving one vote, and Mrs. Rawaa Al-Hallab with one vote, along with 46 MPs abstaining from the nomination.
President Aoun informed Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri of the outcome of the consultations, and Premier Mikati was summoned to Baabda Palace at five o'clock to assign him.
The PM-designate called on everyone to “Save our homeland and extricate our people from what they are floundering in, because the responsibility to rescue is a collective responsibility and not the responsibility of an individual”.
“We are faced with the challenge of total collapse or gradual rescue, based on a single opportunity that is available to us at the present time. I stress the need to cooperate with Parliament to approve the required reform projects before completing the negotiations in the next stage to complete the final agreement with the IMF, because without this agreement. The rescue opportunities we seek will not be available; as it is the main crossing point for rescue, and this is what all friends of Lebanon express, who are sincere intent to help us” PM Mikati said.
MP Firas Salloum said “Because of the narrowing of options in only two names, which are PM Najib Mikati and Ambassador Nawaf Salam, and since the program of Ambassador Salam is unknown, and despite my conviction with change, I decided that I would be the son of Tripoli, the state of PM Najib Mikati, to form the government. However, this assignment does not necessarily mean granting confidence to the future government, because my confidence will be linked to two things: the government’s reform program to advance the country, and the second, and most importantly, the representation of the Alawite Islamic sect in the government, like the rest of the components in Lebanon”.
MP Charbel Massaad said “Today we were faced with two choices: Either we name PM Najib Mikati, or Mr. Nawaf Salam. For me, President Mikati is part of the system that failed to manage the economic and social crisis in the country. Another thing I would like to remind everyone of, which is the crime of bombing the port of Beirut, and the current government is failing to reveal the criminals and hold the perpetrators and negligent to account for this crime.
As for Nawaf Salam, and with my full respect for his person, I have not heard of any project he proposed to save the country from its economic and social crisis, so I will not name him either, and therefore I will not name anyone to head the Council of Ministers in the next stage, and I wish success to all”.
MP Bilal Husheimi said “I named Premier Najib Mikati to form the government and I wished His Excellency the President that the government would be formed as soon as possible. I named PM Mikati because there is an economic plan for advancement and a plan related to the International Fund that the government was working on. And I think that the remaining three months are not enough to name a person other than Mikati”.
MP Ghassan Skaff said “Since the Lebanese voter has expressed an explicit desire for the emergence of a new, future authority, outside the tone of quotas, that gives impetus to the concept of state and citizenship, and since I do not believe in the white paper, nor in non-naming, I decided to name Ambassador Nawaf Salam I did not name a person Nawaf Salam, as I do not know him, as much as I named the symbol that represents him as a new figure with independence and local and international credibility.
Perhaps the Ambassador Salam will not be assigned, but the reform and change work is a cumulative work that must start somewhere and we may establish today is for the period after the presidential elections. Today, we need an emergency rescue government to achieve quick achievements that simulate the people’s pain and prevent the disintegration of the state and the demise of the country, otherwise let’s go to early presidential elections”.
MP Ihab Matar said “Away from populist speeches and jokes, and because the country needs a new formula and new blood, and the formation of the government needs to assign a prime minister according to the constitution, not according to the logic of quotas and preconditions, and believing in the woman and her role, I informed His Excellency the President of the designation of Dr. Rawaa Hallab, because of her qualities and capabilities commensurate with the needs of the country. This site is not for settling accounts, and we wish success to the designated premier in his duties.
Question: This name is not a candidate, and he has no right to be named.
Answer: “There are many talents, and I am exercising my constitutional right, and I hope that the personalities will take their chance. I wish success to the Prime Minister, but the constitutional right is to nominate whomever the deputies deems appropriate, and not according to preconditions”.
MP Nabil Badr said “We are convinced of the necessity of forming a government to meet the challenges of the next stage. We have decided to name Premier Najib Mikati to be the head of the next Lebanese government. We know that the majority demands change, but we see that there is no possibility today for that, and indeed there is. The absence of a change candidate and the formation of a government at this stage, and thus gave us the opportunity for the person who has full knowledge of the sensitive files we are currently facing, especially the file of border demarcation, the IMF and the recovery plan. Real change will begin with the election of a new president of the republic”.
MP Firas Hamdan said “We started our conversation with the President of the Republic by reminding that 80% of the Lebanese are below the poverty line, and that the sectors of education, medicine, electricity, water and public utilities are in conflict, and that the rights of the Lebanese and residents have become unavailable luxuries. Except for a small number of people, and that the Lebanese are now deprived of the most basic necessities of a decent life, they are striving around the clock to secure the basics of life.
From this point of view, we told the President that it is unacceptable to continue with the same approach and the same faces that brought the country to what it has reached. Here, we told President Aoun that providing the majority to assign Najib Mikati to head the government is a continuation of the quota approach that led to the collapse of the country and the destruction of the dreams of the Lebanese men and women.
Therefore, and in rejection of the logic of quotas, barter and bargaining over the rights of all Lebanese, ten members of the bloc named Judge Nawaf Salam to form the government, and the names are: Melhem Khalaf, Paula Yaacoubian, Mark Daou, Rami Feng, Wadah Al-Sadiq, Yassin Yassin, Ibrahim Mneimneh, Firas Hamdan, and Michel Douaihy. Three other members abstained from naming Salam, they are: Cynthia Zrazir, Halima Kaakour, and Elias Jarada.
We have also agreed that the government’s priorities will be as follows: First: stopping the economic collapse through a complete recovery plan that does not affect the state’s assets, working on restructuring the banking sector, defining responsibilities and assigning losses to those responsible for the collapse and beneficiaries of financial engineering.
Secondly, the restoration of the state, the state responsible for all its citizens, protecting and defending them, exercising its sovereignty and firm authority with justice over its entire territory, and safeguarding its land and sea borders in accordance with national standards. Third: Commitment to protecting the citizen as a top priority by developing a plan for food security, hospitalization and medicine, and activating social benefits for the most vulnerable groups.
Fourth: Commitment to the principle of judicial independence and placing the case of the August 4 explosion crime at the top of the priority list by committing not to exert any pressure to protect the accused.
Fifth: Commitment to a foreign policy that serves Lebanon’s supreme interest.
Sixth: Initiating basic reforms in vital sectors and appointing a regulatory authority for the electricity sector.
Therefore, we hold the ruling system responsible for the acceleration of the collapse and the inability to assign a prime minister at the level of the delicate stage that the Lebanese men and women are going through. We also call on the Lebanese people to rally around the national change option for all the entitlements that come from electing a president and naming a prime minister, who are up to their hopes and aspirations. Our rising generations and people are building a state of truth, law, justice and citizenship. Our confrontation continues inside the council and soon on the street”.
In response to a question about the members of the delegation not naming a single person, MP Kaakour replied “Because we are not a single party”.
MP Abdel Karim Kabbara said “Today we are living in very difficult circumstances, and unfortunately there are no solutions or cooperation to reach these solutions. Also, how there are parliamentary blocs racing to reserve their place in the government, and also imposing conditions, while everyone is required to be part of a national rescue workshop that has compassion for the people who suffer every day. God helps the country, so I believe in the necessity of completing the steps initiated by the current government, and I named PM Najib Mikati, who I believe is the most capable of leading the current stage”.
Development and Liberation Bloc:
MP Michel Moussa said “Based on the statement of the Development and Liberation Bloc that met yesterday, which focused on the approach that the caretaker government or the new government should follow, especially in terms of upcoming crises and benefits, and in particular preserving the rights of depositors and restoring confidence in Lebanon. Our bloc has named PM Najib Mikati”.
Strong Lebanon Bloc:
MP Gebran Bassil said “We in the Free Patriotic Movement adopted the option not to name it for two reasons: First, we are not with the designation of Prime Minister Mikati for several reasons that I explained in the media, but I will mention the most important of them, including what was expressed by the Premier himself about the difficulty of forming a new government in this short time, and the difficulty of achieving things we consider essential in the next stage, related to the Central Bank and the investigation of the explosion of the port, reforms and the recovery plan, and the recent emerging matter related to the maritime borders. Before the presidential elections, and after that, talking about serious matters is not correct, because the time is coming, the economic conditions are difficult, and the social explosion is serious. We cannot deal with this stage from the perspective of passing the next four months, and I do not think that the country can bear that. Well between the upcoming presidential election after four months and the urgent conditions of the people now.
We are waiting first from the prime minister for a commitment through his government to create the necessary atmosphere for holding the presidential elections on time, and secondly for his commitment with the parliamentary majority, which will give him confidence to pass binding reform laws in Parliament, to agree with the International Monetary Fund, which is the 2022 budget, and a law Banking secrecy, the recovery plan and restructuring the banking sector, the Capital Control Law, and thirdly, there must be a commitment to address urgent daily issues related to electricity, bread, water and the conduct of state affairs, because we know that the state has stopped working. There are employee salaries that must be quickly resolved to run the wheel of the state with all its facilities. All these matters need commitment, foremost of which is the issue of the abnormal situation in the Banque du Liban.
We are today a country whose currency is flying and landing, and it is not permissible for the governor of the Banque du Liban to be the subject of judicial prosecution. This situation may not remain without a clear position from the future government, as well as on the issue of the port.
The second thing that motivates us not to name anyone is that no other candidate has been found with serious chances of success. If that was available, we would have had another position today. Unfortunately, those who sold people the illusions for change fell today in the second exam, and they did not have a comprehensive position on a single candidate. We could have studied seriously with the other team the issue of supporting a candidate, the names that deserve it are many, but unfortunately they were not presented completely, and an agreement could have been reached on people like Nawaf Salam, who if he had a serious opportunity today, we would have voted for him, but it is clear that he does not have this opportunity in front of people who are popular in the recent elections, such as MP Abdul Rahman Al-Bizri, or in front of specialists such as Professor Saleh Al-Nusoli. Unfortunately, the situation from which we were alerted and the fragmentation taking place within the Sunni community, the results of which have appeared today, and this is unfortunate.
What happened today is further evidence that there is no real majority in the parliament. There are minorities, and this is the result of the elections, more division and fragmentation within the parliament. This requires us to resort to dialogue and understanding between these minorities in order to be able to form a majority.
A final point I would like to mention, which has been the preoccupation of the media and social media recently, and includes lies about the positions and demands of the Free Patriotic Movement. I would like to stress once again that the movement did not discuss internally the issue of its participation in the government. Thus, when this subject has not been discussed internally, we cannot have discussed it with others. Every talk attributed to us about any demand for participation in the government is incorrect, especially after the spread of false talk about names, portfolios and designations.
Tomorrow, the non-binding consultations will begin, and then we will announce our position on this matter. I hope no false explanations are given to any of our positions. We took the position of not naming from the beginning, and we were in harmony with ourselves as the previous time, because we do not see that with Prime Minister Mikati there is a real opportunity for reform in the country, and therefore we cannot support him at this difficult stage if we want to be in harmony with ourselves. I hope that our position will be taken from what we remind ourselves of, and the issue of our participation in the government will be announced by ourselves, and no one will announce it on our behalf”.
Armenian MP Bloc:
MP Hagop Pakradounian said “In front of the great responsibility today and at the gates of the presidential elections that we want within the constitutional deadline until October 31, given the catastrophic conditions prevailing in the country and the ambiguous future for the citizen, and in our eagerness to the need to delve into reforms and negotiations with stakeholders abroad, at least in the remaining months until the election of the president, and despite some objections to the work of the resigned government and several basic observations about the economic recovery plan, and although we did not name Premier Mikati at the time to form the government, but today and in the absence of competition, the candidates for the presidency of the Council of Ministers were equal, and with our awareness of the painful reality and the need to make room for even a small hope, we decided in the Armenian bloc to name PM Najib Mikati to form a government and at record speed, without falling into the pitfalls of formation and the conditions and counter conditions”.
Question: Why did you name in contrast to what the Strong Lebanon bloc did?
Answer: “There is always a plurality of opinions and differentiation in the bloc, and the last time we did not name anyone and they were like that, but this time we decided to name while they did not want to name anyone. This is the real democracy”.
Question: Are you still in Strong Lebanon bloc?
Answer: “Of course we are”.
MP Muhammad Yehya said “In light of the difficult circumstances we are going through, especially life ones, and in view of the government’s efforts or negotiations with the World Bank, and the necessity of having some experience and having certain points to do this matter, and in light of this orientation given the circumstances the country is going through and the short time to elect a new president of the republic, I named PM Najib Mikati”.
Then, the Director General of the Presidency of the Republic, Dr. Antoine Choucair, read the assignment statement:
“Pursuant to the provisions of Clause 2 of Article 53 of the Constitution relating to the nomination of the designated Prime Minister, the President of the Republic conducted the binding parliamentary consultations today, Thursday, June 23, 2022, and after consulting with the Speaker of the Parliament, and formally informing him of its results. The President of the Republic summoned Mr. Mohamed Najib Mikati to assign him to form a government.
Baabda, June 23, 2022”.
-Muhammad Najib Mikati: 54 votes.
-Nawaf Salam: 25 votes.
-Saad El-Din Hariri: One vote.
-Rawaa Hallab: 1 vote.
No naming: 46 votes.
Absence: 1 MP.
Afterwards, President Aoun informed the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the outcome of the consultations.
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati arrived at 5:00pm, to join the meeting of President Aoun and Speaker Berri. The President briefed PM Mikati on the results of the consultations and his nomination as prime minister-designate to form the government.
After that, the Speaker of Parliament left without making any statement.—Presidency Press Office