Lebanon's caretaker PM rejects leading new gov't unless consensus reached

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Thursday that he will reject leading the new government unless consensual agreement among political parties is reached to nominate him for the post anew.

"I thank everyone who wanted to name me to lead the new cabinet but I will not accept this honor unless I gained the approval and consensus of all parties," Mikati said in a statement released by his media office.

"When I submitted my resignation, I had a belief that this would break the political deadlock. I had hopes that my resignation would open a new opportunity for political parties to reach common ground to confront the risks threatening our country and distance it from being dragged to the abyss," Mikati said.

He stressed that he exerted utmost efforts during his tenure to help the country not to be dragged into political alignments that could increase the rift between the Lebanese.

"Today I call all factions to commit to the standards of national consensus to save Lebanon. I have always stressed that any government to be formed should be a national salvation one that represents all factions," he said.

Mikati's resignation came hours after President Michel Suleiman suspended cabinet sessions for failing to pass a decision on the formation of an election committee to supervise the upcoming parliamentary polls and the refusal to extend the mandate of Internal Security Forces Director General Ashraf Rifi.