BEIRUT: Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in remarks published Monday that he is dissatisfied with the ongoing caretaker Cabinet arrangement in the country and that it is about time to form a new government.
“I am not comfortable with the continued status of caretaker Cabinet. I want to hand over the helm to the new Prime Minister,” Mikati told the As-Safir daily newspaper.
“It is time to form a government and there should be a serious will to form a comprehensive Cabinet. It will be the best solution for confronting internal challenges and the repercussions of the latest developments in the region,” he added.
Mikati downplayed the importance of the actual structure of a new Cabinet and the distribution of portfolios among various political groups, and said: “The obstacle impeding the formation of the Cabinet is the lack of trust between political rivals.”
He called on Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to commit to his convictions and proceed with consultations with President Michel Sleiman on the matter.
Salam, who was tasked with forming the new Cabinet in April, has still made no progress in his mission due to the lack of consensus among political parties.
Mikati also reiterated that he would not call for a Cabinet session to approve oil exploration decrees as long as there is lack of consensus on the decrees.
He said that some politicians have reservations about caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil's approach to oil exploration.
“This is a national issue and it should be addressed with consensus among all the Lebanese,” he said.
Bassil has repeatedly urged the caretaker Cabinet to convene and approve pending oil decrees and issue licenses for Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The decrees, demarcating 10 maritime oil exploration blocks and establishing a revenue-sharing model, require Cabinet approval before oil and gas contracts can be awarded.