Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati insisted on Friday that his government had inherited the problems and crises of previous cabinets, attempting to absolve himself of the failings and incompetence of most of his ministers.

“For two days, I listened to the MPs’ statements and their opinions, most of which were constructive and pointed out the faults we need to remedy, and I did so based on fruitful cooperation between government and parliament. However, it would be preferable for discussions to continue in this constructive approach because the nation concerns us all, and the government and the House are the guarantee of the state,” he stressed in an address delivered before the start of the vote on the 2024 draft budget.

Photo by Jihane Kabalen

Mikati also criticized his detractors, who “think that their existence on the political scene is due only to defamatory and sometimes indecent speeches, whereas they deserve neither praise nor criticism.” Mikati added: “It’s a pity that parliamentary work has become the object of media confrontation, especially when one examines objectively the substance of the amendments proposed for adoption during the debates. Differences in approach and different points of view on the issues addressed are part of the nature of the work and its demands. However, some took advantage of this to restore their image or to give themselves a moment of glory. What struck me most was the fact that several MPs disavowed their direct responsibility for electing a president, preferring instead to hurl accusations at the government and me, blaming me for usurping the powers and prerogatives of the Head of State and violating the Constitution. I cannot ignore these accusations, more so as I stress at every Council of Ministers meeting the need to elect a president of the Republic.”

The Prime Minister in charge of current affairs wished to justify his actions a few days after approving eleven laws, a prerogative that falls to the Head of State and has caused a stir on the political scene.

“The way I act at this particular time is in line with Resolution 6/2023 of the Constitutional Council, which ruled in favor of the constitutionality of holding government sessions. Any excuse to hinder the smooth running of the Council of Ministers is futile. As Prime Minister of all of Lebanon, I have the right to direct and exercise authority over the Council of Ministers and public institutions and to supervise them,” he retorted.

“We are here today to discuss the budget, which is a government priority because it ensures the state’s financial stability above all else. Approving the budget is one of the most important tasks entrusted to Parliament to guarantee the continuity of public services and the regularity of the state’s accounts so that the democratic process can be properly carried out. Admittedly, this budget is not ideal, but it is adapted to the economic, security, social, and international conditions that Lebanon is experiencing, not to mention the regional climates that have adversely affected the country. Nonetheless, I would like to thank the Finance and Budget Committee and its Chairman for the work they have accomplished.”

Mikati concluded, in a frustrated tone, “Instead of complaining and criticizing every initiative we undertake, elect a president and get it over with!”