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Lebanon PM Mikati says he will not run in May parliamentary election

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in the port of Beirut, in the Lebanese capital, on March 10, 2022 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images]
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Lebanon on 10 March 2022 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images]

Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, said on Monday he would not seek re-election in a parliamentary election scheduled for 15 May, Reuters reports.

The statement, made in a television address, throws Sunni Muslim politics in Lebanon into deeper disarray two months from a vote seen as important for reinvigorating public life in Lebanon in the third year of a financial crisis.

Pandora Papers: Lebanon politicians own most offshore companies in the world - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Pandora Papers: Lebanon politicians own most offshore companies in the world – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

It follows an announcement by ex-Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, in January that he would withdraw from politics and that his Future Movement, which now has some 20 members of parliament, would not field candidates.

Hariri is the top Sunni politician in a country where a power-sharing agreement dictates the prime minister must always be Sunni, the president a Maronite Christian and the parliament speaker a Shia Muslim.

All seats in Lebanon's 128-member legislature are also allocated by religious sect, with 27 seats set aside for Sunnis – most of which are now up for grabs.

While announcing he would not run, Mikati called on Lebanese to turn out to vote and said his move aimed to "provide room for the new generation".

Hariri's withdrawal from politics followed years of strained relations with former regional backer, Saudi Arabia, over what the Gulf Arab Kingdom perceived as his weakness in the face Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, which has growing influence in the country.

His decision had raised concerns about a potential boycott of the vote by Sunnis that could undermine the electoral process, though a number of other Sunni candidates are in the running.

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