Lebanon gets a new government, its first since last year's deadly port blast

Najib Mikati, Lebanon's new prime minister, is a billionaire who has already twice served as the country's premier.

A new government has been formed in crisis-ridden Lebanon, ending a more than year-long power vacuum that began shortly after the August 2020 Beirut port blast.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire who has already twice served as premier, will lead a cabinet of ministers that will preside over an economic depression which the World Bank considers one of the world's worst since the mid-19th century.

Mikati visited Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Presidential Palace where he signed a decree to form the new government in the presence of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the Lebanese Presidency said.

The cabinet is also expected to come under massive international pressure to usher in economic reforms, ensure 2022 parliamentary elections take place as scheduled, and to restart negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

Mikati was the third politician to be tasked with forming a cabinet after former Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned in the wake of a port blast that claimed more than 200 lives and devastated whole neighborhoods in the capital.

Days after the explosion, French President Emmanuel Macron spearheaded an initiative to broker a political resolution in Lebanon in a bid to stave off state collapse.

Leading politicians at the time promised to form a government within weeks, but a series of failed negotiations between rival groups put the formation process on a collision course, exacerbating a rapidly deteriorating economic crisis that saw the currency lose over 90% of its pre-crisis value and sparked severe fuel and medicine shortages.

Mikati and his brother, and main business partner, Taha are the richest men in Lebanon. In July, Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor sold its Myanmar operations to Mikati's company, the M1 Group, for $105 million.

The-CNN-Wire

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