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Najib Mikati

Najib Mikati
نجيب ميقاتي
Najib Mikati portrait.jpg
Mikati in 2014
Acting President of Lebanon
Assumed office
31 October 2022
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byMichel Aoun
Prime Minister of Lebanon
Assumed office
10 September 2021
PresidentMichel Aoun
Himself (Acting)
DeputySaadeh Al Shami
Preceded byHassan Diab
In office
13 June 2011 – 15 February 2014
PresidentMichel Suleiman
DeputySamir Mouqbel
Preceded bySaad Hariri
Succeeded byTammam Salam
In office
19 April 2005 – 19 July 2005
PresidentÉmile Lahoud
DeputyElias Murr
Preceded byOmar Karami
Succeeded byFouad Siniora
Minister of Public Works and Transport
In office
6 December 1998 – 26 October 2004
PresidentÉmile Lahoud
Prime Minister
Personal details
Born (1955-11-24) 24 November 1955 (age 67)
Tripoli, Lebanon
Political partyAzm Movement
Other political
RelativesTaha Mikati (brother)
Azmi Mikati (nephew)
Alma materAmerican University of Beirut

Najib Azmi Mikati (Arabic: نجيب عزمي ميقاتي; born 24 November 1955) is a Lebanese politician and businessman, and three-time Prime Minister of Lebanon whose current term began in September 2021. He also serves as the acting President of Lebanon as of October 2022 in his capacity as prime minister. He previously served as Prime Minister from June 2011 to February 2014 and from April to July 2005. He also served as Minister of Public Works and Transport from December 1998 to 2003.

In 2005, he headed an interim government that supervised the general election following the withdrawal of Syrian troops. In 2011, he formed his second government backed by the March 8 alliance, before he resigned in 2013. He was a member of parliament for Tripoli from 2000 to 2005 and was re-elected in 2009 and 2018. In July 2021, he was designated as Prime Minister.

According to Forbes, he is the richest man in Lebanon, with a net worth of $2.5 billion in 2021. He has been subject of multiple corruption accusations, and was charged with illegitimate gains. Mikati was close to the Syrian government and operated several telecom projects in Syria and Lebanon.

Early life and education

Mikati was born on 24 November 1955 and hails from a prominent Sunni Muslim family based in Tripoli. He graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1980 with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. He also attended a summer school program held at Harvard and the French business school INSEAD.

Business career and wealth

Mikati at the World Economic Forum, 2013

In 1979, Najib's older brother Taha Mikati founded Arabian Construction Company (ACC), headquartered in Abu Dhabi, and which became one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East. Najib Mikati co-founded the telecommunications company Investcom with his brother Taha in 1982. He sold the company in June 2006 to South Africa's MTN Group for $5.5 billion.

He is a major shareholder in the South African telecommunications operator MTN, owner of the high-end fashion brand "Façonnable", and investor in transport, gas and oil. He also has investments in real estate, notably in London, New York and Monaco.

He owns the 79m motor yacht Mimtee.

Political career

After being appointed Minister of Public Works and Transport on 4 December 1998, Mikati was elected to the Lebanese parliament from his hometown of Tripoli in 2000, outpolling Omar Karami, who was elected from the same multimember constituency. As a parliamentarian, Mikati retained his cabinet position and developed a reputation as a moderately pro-Syrian politician with a normal relationship with Syrian president Bashar Assad. Later Mikati was made transportation minister and became an ally of then Lebanese president Emile Lahoud, supporting the extension of his term in 2004.

He is considered a compromise figure, not being close to any particular political bloc. He is one of the leaders of the Sunni community. He himself denies any closeness to Hezbollah and describes himself as a liberal, emphasizing his background in business to reassure the United States.

First premiership

Mikati was a perennial candidate for Lebanon's prime ministry since 2000, finally taking the office upon the resignation of Omar Karami on 13 April 2005. During negotiations to form a government, Mikati emerged as a consensus candidate. Mikati acted as a caretaker premier. He is the leader of the solidarity bloc, which has had two seats in the Lebanese parliament since 2004. He also created the centrist movement and ideology in Lebanon and the Arab world, for which he has held many international conferences in Lebanon. In the general elections of 2009, Mikati won again a seat from Tripoli, being a member of the centrist groups in the Lebanese parliament.

Second premiership

Mikati's meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2012) and John Kerry (2014).

On 24 January 2011, the March 8 alliance, specifically Hezbollah, Michel Aoun and Walid Jumblatt, nominated Mikati to become prime minister. Mikati succeeded Saad Hariri, whose government was brought down by the resignation of ten of the alliance's ministers and one presidential appointee on 12 January 2011, resulting from the collapse of the Saudi-Syrian initiative to reach a compromise on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. On 25 January, 68 members of the parliament of Lebanon voted in favor of nominating Mikati for Prime Minister. President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman then invited Mikati to head a new Lebanese government. The process of government formation lasted for five months due to serious disagreements between leaders. On 13 June 2011, Mikati became the Prime Minister of Lebanon for the second time.[citation needed]

On 13 June, Mikati announced the formation of the government and stated that it would begin by "liberating land that remains under the occupation of the Israeli enemy". On 22 March 2013, Mikati resigned from office, due to "intensifying pressure between the pro-Assad and anti-Assad camps" and the Lebanese president accepted his resignation on 23 March 2013. On 6 April 2013, Tammam Salam was tasked to form a new government.

Third premiership

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in August 2020, both Mustafa Adib and Saad Hariri failed to form a government. Mikati was designated to fill the role on 26 July 2021. He received 72 votes out of 128 MPs. Mikati declared that he wants a purely technocratic government, without representatives of political parties, in order to carry out the economic reforms expected by Lebanon's donors. His appointment was received coldly by the population. As the country sinks into a serious economic, social and humanitarian crisis, he is seen as a representative of the traditional political class and economic elites. According to the daily L'Orient-Le Jour, “if being a billionaire has long been an asset in establishing someone on the Lebanese political scene, it is now perceived by part of the population as a symbol of the plundering of public resources by the political class. On September 10, 2021, Mikati was able to form a government of 24 members after long negotiations with President Aoun, and the various political parties. When he took office, Lebanon was in the grip of a very serious economic crisis: collapse of the national currency, galloping inflation (the cost of food had jumped by 700% in the previous two years), massive layoffs, a poverty rate of 78% according to the UN, frequent power cuts, fuel shortages, etc. He announced that he wanted to call on the solidarity of the Arab world to try to get the country out of the crisis it was going through and to negotiate with the IMF.

In February 2022, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, Lebanese senior Christian cleric and head of the Maronite Church, called on the Mikati government to "agree with the IMF on a plan that saves Lebanon from collapse".

He was again name prime minister designate 23 June 2022 with 54 votes against Nawaf Salam's 28 to form a new cabinet until the remainder of President Michel Aoun's term. However, Mikati and Aoun failed to agree on a new government numerous times. President Michel Aoun signed the government's resignation decree, a day before his six-year term officially ended, and Najib Mikati's government remained in office in a caretaker capacity, however Aoun’s move was deemed as of no effect by the Lebanese Parliament in a session held on November 3 since the government was already considered resigned following parliamentary elections on May 15.

Corruption allegations

In 2019, state prosecutor Ghada Aoun pressed charges against Mikati over illegitimate enrichment via subsidised housing loans.

In October 2021, Mikati was named in the Pandora Papers leak. He denied any wrongdoing.

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