Lebanon leader to convene Cabinet within days for first time since October

2 minute read
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

BEIRUT, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Wednesday he will convene the Cabinet within days for the first time in nearly three months, potentially ending a standoff that has paralysed the government during a financial crisis.

"We will convene Cabinet as soon as it receives the (2022) budget," Mikati said following a meeting with President Michel Aoun, adding this should happen "within the next two days".

The powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its ally the Amal movement have refused to allow the Cabinet to meet since Oct. 12, demanding the removal of a judge investigating the devastating 2020 explosion in Beirut port. Mikati has said the executive branch has no say in the matter.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The failure of Cabinet to meet has prevented measures to address a crisis described by international bodies as one of the most severe financial meltdowns in world history. The national currency hit an all-time low of 30,000 pounds to the US dollar overnight Wednesday -- a 95% loss compared to its value in 2019.

Mikati said approval of the 2022 budget by Cabinet and parliament - already delayed - was a main demand of the International Monetary Fund amid talks for a support programme seen as key to Lebanon's economic recovery.

"I think that (the Cabinet's) agenda and the presence of the budget makes it more than necessary for Cabinet to meet, and I don't think anyone will fall short on their national (duties)," he said.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Yasmin Hussein and Timour Azhari; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Peter Graff

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.