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Lebanon could still sign IMF deal despite executive vaccum

Person, Human, Clothing REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Beirut has been slow to implement a series of reforms required by the IMF

Lebanon could still finalise a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion bailout despite having no president and no fully-empowered government, caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said on Thursday.

Beirut signed a draft agreement with the IMF in April but has been slow to implement a series of reforms required by the lender to finalise a deal seen as key to exiting its worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

The IMF has been critical of “very slow” progress.

Efforts to enact reforms face obstruction from politicians protecting vested interests and evading accountability.

The end of former president Michel Aoun’s term on October 31 without the election of a successor has added to gaps at the executive level in Lebanon, which has already had no fully functioning government since May elections.

However, Mikati said parliament would be able to pass the necessary reforms and finalize the deal if it had the will to do so.

“Its all up to parliament – if parliament approves it, it can go into effect,” Mikati told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Beirut.

Caretaker Justice Minister Henry Khoury said that approving the deal without a president or government in place was not ideal but that the top-level vaccum would require parliament to step up.

“With all these issues, there is a role for the legisature. We must find solutions,” Khoury told Reuters.