Najib Mikati: Lebanon could sign IMF deal despite political vacuum

Caretaker PM says agreement will go into effect if Parliament approves it

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Lebanon could still sign an urgently needed $3 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund despite the political vacuum in the country, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said.

Lebanese MPs have so far failed to agree on a successor to Michel Aoun, who stood down as president in October, while Mr Mikati's Cabinet has held a caretaker role for months and is not fully empowered.

Beirut signed a staff-level agreement with the IMF in April but has been slow to introduce a series of reforms the lender requested. The IMF has criticised the lack of progress.

Mr Mikati said Parliament could pass the necessary reforms and finalise the deal if it wanted to.

"Its all up to Parliament — if Parliament approves it, it can go into effect," Mr Mikati told Reuters.

Caretaker Justice Minister Henry Khoury said Parliament should step up to agree to the deal in the absence of a new president and government.

"With all these issues, there is a role for the legislature. We must find solutions," he said.

Lebanon is entrenched in an economic crisis that has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history.

Many of the country's six million people have been plunged into poverty and there are widespread shortages in medicine, bread, clean water and electricity.

Updated: November 10, 2022, 1:14 PM