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Factbox-Lebanon's PM-designate Najib Mikati

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By Reuters
Factbox-Lebanon's PM-designate Najib Mikati
Factbox-Lebanon's PM-designate Najib Mikati   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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BEIRUT – Lebanese businessman and former prime minister Najib Mikati secured enough votes in parliamentary consultations on Monday to be designated the head of government again after the support of major parties.

His designation as premier came after veteran Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri abandoned attempts at forming a cabinet earlier this month, after nine months of deadlock with President Michel Aoun, the Maronite Christian head of state.

The issues that obstructed Hariri’s attempts at cabinet formation, including Aoun’s demand for effective veto power in government, will probably continue to complicate the task.

The political squabbling has left Lebanon without effective government as the country has sunk deeper into economic and financial crisis.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, whose cabinet resigned in August following the Beirut port explosion, has continued in a caretaker capacity until the new government is formed.

Here are some facts about Mikati, a wealthy telecoms tycoon:

* Mikati, a Sunni Muslim, was chosen as caretaker prime minister in April 2005, when an outcry over Rafik al-Hariri’s killing forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Mikati served three months until the election won by an alliance of Sunni, Druze and Christian parties led by Hariri’s son, Saad.

* Mikati, 65, was nominated prime minister again in June 2011, resigning in May 2013 and staying on in a caretaker capacity until February 2014.

* The soft-spoken, Harvard-educated Mikati began building his Investcom business in the midst of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war. He sold his telecoms interests to South Africa’s MTN Group for $5.5 billion in 2006.

*In 2007 he founded the M1 Group, which has various investment interests. This month, Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor sold its Myanmar operations to M1 Group for $105 million.

* Mikati served as minister of public works and transport in three cabinets between 1998 and 2004.

* Unlike many Lebanese leaders, Mikati does not hail from one of its many political dynasties, rendering him a more likely compromise candidate for premier.