Lebanese PM says not resigning so that May elections are held

Lebanon's elections in May will be the first since the financial implosion of 2019.

Leading businessman Najib Mikati gestures at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon July 26, 2021. (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS)
Leading businessman Najib Mikati gestures at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon July 26, 2021.
(photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS)

Lebanon's Najib Mikati said on Tuesday he would stay put as prime minister to avoid giving anyone an excuse to delay parliamentary elections scheduled for May 15.

The polls are the first since Lebanon's 2019 financial implosion and protests that drew thousands of people into the streets angry at the ruling elite, seen as responsible for decades of waste and corruption.

"I won't be dragged into resigning so that it is not an excuse for obstructing parliamentary elections," Mikati said in televised remarks outside a session of parliament.

"This is a reason for not resigning," Mikati said, noting he had called for a vote of confidence in his government - a demand that was declined by House Speaker Nabih Berri.

Mikati said his request followed critical statements by some officials about his government. He was not specific.

najib mikati_311 reuters (credit: Lebanese PM Mikati speaks after announcement of ne)najib mikati_311 reuters (credit: Lebanese PM Mikati speaks after announcement of ne)

Visibly irritated, Mikati said that the electoral interests of some parties were harming attempts by the government to extract Lebanon from its most serious crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

Mikati's government, named "Together to the Rescue", has not managed to agree on financial and reform measures demanded by Western donors and the International Monetary Fund, from whom Lebanon is seeking to secure an aid package.

Earlier this month, Mikati, a billionaire tycoon and three-time prime minister, said he wouldn't run for a seat in the 128-member legislature, saying he wanted to make room for new faces.