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mikati transfers funds to STLLebanon Prime Minister Nagib Mikati has tendered his resignation after what happened today during the cabinet session.

Mikati made announcement of his resignation at the Serail at 8:40 PM local time .

This comes after Mikati notified the March 8 alliance that he intends to resign and was told that they have no objection against him taking such a step, according to a report by New TV.

Mikati started addressing the media at the grand Serail by joking: “I know you have been waiting for this moment for a long time ”

He said that after the term of Rifi expires the security in the country could suffer greatly and for this reason he felt compelled to ask him to stay.

He added : I feel compelled to take this position and allow flor dialoge and formation of a new cabinet to supervise the elections.

He said that twice he intended to resign . once because of the funding of the special tribunal for lebanon and the other when Wissam Hassan was assassinated.

Progressive Socialist party leader MP Walid jumblatt said Mikati’s resignation was not over Rifi’s term but was aimed at protecting the state institution.

Jumblatt added that he backs the 1960 electoral law since it is the only alternative left .

In an interview with LBC Jumblatt added. “We are concerned that if Rifi’s term is not extended former security chief Ali al Hajj will take his place. We still think that he had a role in the killing of former PM Rafik Hariri , despite the fact that the International Tribunal had ordered their release from jail.”

Jumblatt urged Hezbollah to hand over the suspects in Hariri assassination and to allow them to defend themselves and prove their innocence. He also urged Hezbollah to point its guns at the southern borders instead of supporting the Syrian regime in killing the Syrian people

Background

Mikati was appointed premier in 2011 after Hezbollah and its allies brought down the unity government of Saad al-Hariri.

During his two years in office he has sought to insulate his country from the civil war in neighbouring Syria which deepened Lebanon’s own sectarian tensions and led to street battles in the northern city of Tripoli.

The cabinet failed on Friday to extend the term of Major General Ashraf Rifi, head of Lebanon’s internal security forces, who is due to retire early next month. Mr Rifi, like Mr Mikati, is a Sunni Muslim from Tripoli.

Hezbollah and its allies objected to the extension and also opposed the formation of a supervisory body to oversee a parliamentary election which is due in June. Lebanese politicians have yet to agree arrangements for the poll.

The president and the prime minister said they were not prepared to chair any cabinet meeting if the supervisory body was not on the agenda, ministers said, effectively halting further cabinet meetings.

The Syrian fighting, a tide of Syrian refugees pouring into Lebanon and the country’s own domestic turmoil have also caused a sharp slowdown in Lebanon’s economy and a 67 per cent surge in its budget deficit last year.

According to observers Hezbollah does not want the elections to be held in June under the 1960 law , because this will not secure the majority needed to form its own government and for this reason the party opposed the formation of a supervisory body to oversee the parliamentary election which is scheduled for June and pulled out the rug from under Mikati.

One observer commented by saying” finally Mikati realized that this is Hezbollah’s cabinet and not his cabinet and the one that calls the shots is the Hezbollah chief ”

Reactions

Former Lebanese PM and current Future bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora said that Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s resignation paves the way for dialogue among the country’s different parties.

“The cabinet’s resignation today opened the door to a round of dialogue,” Siniora told Al-Arabiyya television on Friday.

The opposition leader added that the cabinet headed by Mikati “should have resigned a long time ago so it would fix the imbalance it has created.”

Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan insinuated that some political leaders went too far in their reaction to the cabinet not extending the term of Internal Security Forces chief Ashraf Rifi.

“Where is the big catastrophe if Rifi’s tenure was not extended, with all due respect? … Should the government [fall]… and the prime minister resign?” the Free Patriotic Movement MP told LBC on Friday.

Marwan Charbel, the interior minister in the resigned cabinet, said on Friday that the security situation will be affected by the absence of the government and voiced his fears that the parliamentary elections would not be held.

“The security situation will be affected by the absence of the government but we will not let things go out of hand until a new one is formed,” Charbel said in an interview with LBC television.

Charbel also said: “I am with the formation of a neutral government that oversees the [parliamentary] elections.”

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea praised Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s resignation, describing it as being a “bold step.”

“In these delicate circumstances, we cannot but praise the bold step former PM Najib Mikati took especially because it followed the March 8 group’s refusal to extend security leaders’ terms,” Geagea said in a statement issued Friday.

He also voiced hope that “President Michel Suleiman takes the initiative as soon as possible to schedule parliamentary consultancies and name a new prime minister.”

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