Miqati seen as unifying force

Najib Miqati, who has been appointed to head the next Lebanese government, is a wealthy businessman with close ties to Syria.

    Miqati was trained in business management in Paris and the US

    A family friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, Miqati is a political opponent of outgoing prime minister Umar Karami in their native northern port city of Tripoli.


    The Lebanese opposition said Miqati, whom they view as less provocative than other pro-Syrian candidates, was named after he pledged to meet opposition demands to hold elections on time but not run himself, and to sack security chiefs and the public prosecutor.


    The opposition had blamed the pro-Syrian government and Damascus for the 14 February assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri which plunged the country into crisis.


    Miqati was elected MP in 2000

    Miqati, a tall, soft-spoken 49-year-old moderate Sunni Muslim, enjoys the backing of outgoing Interior Minister Sulayman Franjiyah, a powerful Maronite and also a personal friend of the Syrian president.


    Miqati was elected MP for northern Lebanon in 2000, and remained minister of public works and transport under several governments between 1998 and 2004.


    He is the co-founder and partner of Luxemburg-based Investcom Holding, the mother company of a group of telecommunication firms around the world.


    He was the owner of one of the two mobile telephone companies in Lebanon until last year.


    After earning a masters in business administration at the American University of Beirut, Miqati pursued business management studies at the prestigious INSEAD institute near Paris, and Harvard university in the United States.


    He is married with three children.


    The opposition's choice


    A majority of MPs consulted by President Emile Lahud picked the him after weeks of political haggling, heralding a possible end to a two-month political crisis.



    On Friday, Miqati was named in mandatory consultations to find a new prime minister after 46 days of failed efforts, amid strong pressure from the opposition and the international community not to delay crucial elections.


    Opposition MPs, who have been leading a campaign to end Syria's military and political domination of the country, opted to name Miqati in order to guarantee that the Damascus-backed government holds crucial elections on time.



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