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Lebanon: Mikati announces his resignation


Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his resignation Friday evening, effectively dissolving the current government.

In a televised address, Mikati said he was stepping down due to an impasse over a new election law and parliament's refusal to extend the tenure of the country's police chief, Ashraf Rifi.

According to news channel LBCI, Mikati will submit his resignation to President Michel Sleiman on Saturday. Sleiman must accept Mikati's resignation for it to become official.

Najib Mikati said that he hoped his departure would be "an impetus for leaders to shoulder their responsibilities."

"Today, while we were discussing the issue of holding the elections, I realized that renewal and pumping blood into the veins of the political life are a national duty," he said. "I find myself obligated to take a stance of conscience in order to allow dialogue to take place."

"Dialogue is the only way to rescue Lebanon and a salvation government must be formed," Mikati added.

After months of wrangling, the parliament has been unable to agree on a law to govern elections slated for later this year. It remained unclear on Friday night whether Mikati's resignation would have consequences on the electoral calendar.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel has indicated that Lebanese political factions were in favor of postponing elections for two years, Naharnet reported.

Gunfire erupted in Mikati's hometown of Tripoli Friday night upon hearing the news, mere hours after a ceasefire agreement had been reached between belligerent parties in the restive city.

Mikati had previously tried to resign in October in the wake of an explosion in Beirut's Sassine Square, which killed intelligence strongman Wissam al-Hassan.

From April to July 2005, Mikati headed a caretaker government. He began his term as prime minister in June 2011.

A former telecommunications magnate, Mikati is thought to be the richest man in Lebanon.

(Al-Akhbar, AP)

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