90 Days in the Serail
Monday, Feb 28, 2005

On 28 February 2005 Premier Omar Karami submitted the resignation of his Cabinet, two weeks after the political crisis that followed the assassination of Premier Rafic Hariri. Premier Karami was again assigned to form a new Cabinet, which he declined on 13 April.

After deliberations with Speaker Nabih Berri, President Lahoud set 15 April of that year as a date for holding compulsory parliamentary consultations to enable him to nominate a new Premier. In the wake of these consultations, President Lahoud nominated member of parliament Najib Mikati as the new Premier amid notable national, regional, and international support.

Premier designate Mikati held non-binding consultations with various political and spiritual parties, with deputies, and with members of various economic commissions including labor bodies, an unprecedented move in Lebanon, where a premier designate would listen to opinions and hear views prior to forming a new Cabinet.

On 19 April, it was decreed that Najib Mikati is the new Premier of Lebanon. Another decree stipulated the nomination of a new government to be transitory, and with two priorities. The first, to secure parliamentary elections on time, the second, to follow-up on local and international investigations on Hariri's assassination. The new cabinet was unique in that neither its head nor its members ran for parliamentary elections. Premier Mikati labeled his Cabinet as the 'government of non-hatred, and the beginning of future-making'.

Taking into account that politics were the art of the possible, Premier Mikati drafted his municipal communiqué. Mikati's Cabinet was given the highest vote of confidence ever, with 110 deputies voting in favor.

Mikati's Cabinet proved able, meeting its promises by cooperating with the international commission investigating the Hariri assassination, and by holding parliamentary elections on time. Local and international monitors acknowledged that the elections were fair and well-organized.
Premier Mikati said at the time that it was not easy to accept international monitoring bodies to supervise our elections, especially that Lebanon has a long-established history of democratic process. However, he reiterated, we have agreed to that to give our elections more credibility worldwide and to give Lebanon credit for handling such free and fair elections.
He held inter-ministerial coordination meetings, as well as separate ones in order to improve performance, a strategy that increased the output of all ministries and public institutions.

Despite its rejection of any settlement of Palestinians on Lebanese soil, Mikati's Cabinet made a courageous move enabling Palestinian refugees to live decently in Lebanon. He issued legislation allowing them to work in a number of specified sectors, enabling them to rebuild and refurbish their refugee camps.

Premier Mikati also launched 'The Beirut Pact', a socio-economic project aiming to improve the social and economic standards of all Lebanese, allowing them to live in dignity in a secure social climate. Experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the Council of Ministers and all other national economic commissions' representatives debated The Pact extensively. The World Bank, in its semester report, referred to The Pact as "a project that lays down the solid foundations of a state at the service of its citizens."

Regarding the electoral law, Premier Mikati suggested to keep unchanged the number of deputies and the equal seats formula between Christians and Moslems in parliament. However a new law would be based simultaneously on both proportional as well as on majority representation, with major reforms, thus meeting the aspirations and desires of all the people.

In fact, Mikati's Cabinet echoed the hopes and aspirations of the people, unaffected by the fact that it was a transitional government. Not only did it succeed in holding free and fair elections, it also restored domestic stability. It held record cabinet meetings and passed decisions and decrees, with 644 decrees, 479 decisions and 10 memos.

On 21 June 2005, president Lahoud assigned Mikati's Cabinet as caretaker awaiting the formation of a new Cabinet. A decree was issued later on- 19 July of that same year- considering the Cabinet as resigned.

Lebanon had lived between 19 April and 19 July 2005 a unique experience of 90 days- where a statesman described by many as having 'gripped and contained a fireball without ever burning', left his undeniable mark in the Serail.

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كلمة الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي في مؤتمر القمة العربية