LBC is reporting (on Twitter) that Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Miqati is headed to the Grand Serail to announce his resignation over the current cabinet squabble concerning the extension of Ashraf Rifi’s tenure as director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF).
I spoke to NOW Lebanon’s Alex Rowell yesterday about this issue, suggesting that the Free Patriotic Movement’s threat to not extend Rifi’s mandate should be taken seriously, given the long history of hostility between the FPM and the ISF. Of course, the fight over Rifi could just be a prelude to the much larger appointment issue that is looming: the question of who will be Lebanon’s next president. This may, in fact, be the first bargaining chip in that protracted future transaction (which will get going soon after the parliamentary elections, if they ever take place).
I’m getting reports from folks as I write this that Rifi is in fact out and Miqati is in fact going to resign, so I’m going to sign off now and watch the events develop. More later, but in the meantime, I think that this post from the archives gets at the fundamental reason behind Miqati’s threatened resignation.
Live-blog/translation of Miqati’s speech:
8:35PM: I’ve committed myself to the country that I love.
8:36: It is necessary to raise the salaries of the civil society workers. It is necessary to hold elections on time. We need an electoral law that renews Lebanon’s message to the world (as a place of coexistence).
8:38: The President has demanded dialogue on all of these issues. We need a government that can save the country from the problems it faces.
8:39: The problems are great. I am satisfied with my efforts.
8:40: I have kept all channels of communication open. The nation comes first.
8:40: I threatened to resign twice before: Once over the funding of the Special Tribunal, and once when Wissam al-Hassan was murdered. Today the conditions are worse, economically, politically, etc.
8:41: Today, I announce my resignation, hoping this represents a way out of the problems that the country faces. I want to thank all of the political forces that cooperated with me over the past period.
8:42: Despite the worries and tension that hang over us, we are capable of overcoming them. I remain by your side. May God secure this nation.
End of speech. [I’m sure I botched most of it, but I’m translating while trying to finish a conference paper to be delivered in an hour…]