Rear View – Lebanon in review (25 October 2020)
19 Oct: Journalist Interrogated after Slandering President
Journalist Riad Kobaissi underwent interrogation by President Aoun’s Criminal Investigation Department after accusing the President of lifting a travel ban on a Saudi Prince accused of smuggling the banned amphetamine, Captagon, through Lebanon.
Kobaissi had revealed that the Director General of Customs, Badri Daher, whilst undergoing questioning over the Beirut Port explosion, that President Aoun had personally asked him to lift the travel ban on the Saudi Prince. The President’s media office denied the claims, saying that “such allegations are tantamount to a slander and moral assault on the office of the presidency.”
20 Oct: Women March Against Berri
A group of women marched from Verdun to Ain El Tineh in Beirut in protest against corruption and to call for the resignation of the Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri. Security forces surrounded the peaceful marchers to prevent them from approaching Berri’s residence.
22 Oct: The Old Guard are BACK!
Saad Hariri returned to the role of Prime Minister roughly a year after the start of the people’s revolution that toppled his government. It was a dark day for the people who were hoping for massive change. Although Hariri pledges to curb Lebanon’s crisis and form a government of nonpartisan experts, there is little confidence or hope that anything will change. 65 MPs voted in support of Hariri’s nomination. Hariri pledged to reign in the collapse and said he would seek to form a government of nonpartisan experts in order to implement the reforms referred to in the “concept paper” presented as part of the French initiative.
22 Oct: Port Blast Investigation Deemed Untrustworthy
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has announced that the domestic investigation into the deadly Port blast did not yield credible results and was hampered by political interference and deep-rooted flaws in the justice system. HRW called on the International Support Group for Lebanon, who are set to meet next week, to push for an independent investigation led by the United Nations to determine the causes of the blast and the parties responsible.
23 Oct: Major Hospitals Cease Services
Six major Lebanese hospitals announced they were ceasing medical and surgical treatment after the latest Central Bank circular required medical supply importers to pay back their dues in Lebanese Liras. This punitive decision drove importers to push the costs onto hospitals, which resulted in shortages of medical and surgical supplies and forced them to shut their doors.
The six hospitals are the American University of Beirut’s Medical Center (AUBMC), the Lebanese-American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital (LAUMCRH), St Georges Hospital University Medical Center, Notre Dâme des Secours Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (NDS), Hôtel-Dieu de France Centre Hospitalier de l’USJ de Beyrouth, and Mount Lebanon Hospital.
Commenting on the hospitals’ statement, the Association of Banks in Lebanon announced the banks’ readiness to provide liquidity and hoped that the hospitals would retract their decision.
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