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BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s president began consultations with members of parliamentary blocs on Thursday to name a new prime minister following last month’s parliamentary elections.

Outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati is widely expected to get the largest support from legislators to form a new Cabinet that will be in power until the end of October when President Michel Aoun’s six-year term expires.

Such a short tenure could make it difficult for the billionaire premier to form a Cabinet since it usually takes months to form a government in Lebanon due to political bickering.

Another candidate for the post is Lebanon’s former ambassador to the U.N. Nawaf Salam, who is backed by some independents as well as the nationalist Kataeb Party and the bloc backed by Druze leader Walid Joumblatt.

The new government’s main mission will be to continue talks with the International Monetary Fund over an economic recovery plan for Lebanon, which is in the grip of its worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.

Mikati has the backing of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its Shiite ally, the Amal Movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. Mikati also has the support for some Sunni legislators.

One of the two largest Christian blocs, the Saudi-backed Lebanese Forces party, said it will not name any candidate while it was not clear who the bloc led by Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement will name. The head of FPM, legislator Gebran Bassil, said he will not name Mikati.

Several legislators have said they will not name any candidate for the prime minister’s post.

Mikati’s previous government that he formed in September became a caretaker Cabinet after the May 15, parliamentary elections that gave the majority of the legislature’s seats to mainstream political groups that are blamed for decades of corruption and mismanagement that led to the economic meltdown.

Last month’s vote also saw Hezbollah and its allies lose majority seats in parliament that they had held since 2018.

Lebanon’s economic meltdown that began in October 2019 was described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since the 1850s. Since then, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value, tens of thousands have become jobless, and many have left the small nation of 6 million people, which includes 1 million Syrian refugees.

The crisis was made worse by the coronavirus pandemic and a massive blast in August 2020 that killed more than 200, injured thousands and destroyed Beirut’s port and damaged parts of the capital.

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Biden blasts ‘extremist’ Supreme Court and promises to protect women traveling across state lines to obtain an abortion

Calling the U.S. Supreme Court “extremist,” President Joe Biden held a virtual roundtable with nine Democratic governors Friday afternoon to discuss options in the wake of six conservative justices stripping the civil right of abortion from Americans. Biden promised he will protect women traveling across state lines to obtain an abortion and will protect women’s rights to FDA-approved abortion drugs.

The President, fresh off his NATO trip, called the Court overturning Roe v. Wade a “terrible extreme decision in my view, upending lives and impacting on the health and safety of millions of women.”

“I share the public outrage that this extremist court has committed to moving America backwards with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading the most personal decisions,” he added, echoing remarks he made in Madrid about the Court. The President warned that “if they expand on this decision” it will impact “men as well.”

“As I’ve said last week, this is not over. Last week, I announced two specific actions. First, if extremist governors try to block a woman from traveling from her state that prohibits her from seeking medical help she needs to a state that provides that care the federal government will act to protect her bedrock rights through the Attorney General’s Office. Second, if states try to block a woman from getting medication the FDA has already approved and has been available for more than 20 years, my administration will act and protect that woman’s right to that medication.”

The President warned that “ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law. But as I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that. But right now, we don’t have the votes from the Senate to change the filibuster on them at the moment. That means we need two more votes.”

“The choice is clear: either elect federal senators and representatives who will codify Roe or Republicans who will elect the House and Senate will try to ban abortions nationwide. Nationwide. This is going to go one way or the other after November. So let’s remember, the reasoning of this decision has an impact much beyond Roe and to the right to privacy more generally. Justice Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision that the court should reconsider marriage equality and contraception and there’s a lot at stake here.”

\u201cPres. Biden said Congress needs to act to codify Roe v. Wade into law but that "right now, we don't have the votes in the Senate to change the filibuster."\n\n"We either elect federal senators who will codify Roe, or Republicans who will ... try to ban abortions nationwide."\u201d — CBS News (@CBS News) 1656697863


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