Rear View – Lebanon in review (28 March 2021)
21 March: Mother’s March on Mother’s Day for Port Victims
Dozens of women, including mothers who lost their children in the massive Beirut explosion last year marched to the still-damaged scene of the blast to mark Mothers’ Day.
Some of the women, many of whom were wearing black, carried banners denouncing Lebanon’s political class, which they accuse of corruption and negligence that led to the explosion, as well as the country’s worst economic crisis in its modern history.
“The scream of every mother is leave,” read one of the banners carried by the protesters, referring to the country’s ruling political elites.
“We raised them inch by inch and you blew them up. Leave!” read another banner.
22 March: Hariri and Aoun Stalemate Continues
The 18th critical meeting between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on the country’s uncertain future failed again to reach an agreement. Hariri insists on forming a government of 18 independent specialists acting as ministers, without the capacity for a blocking third by any party, while Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) propose a government of 20 ministers, with the right to name 6 ministers in addition to an Armenian minister. Hariri said that Aoun sent him on Sunday “a complete ministerial structure in which the portfolios were distributed among the sects and parties, along with a letter telling me that it is advisable to fill it out.”
“The list includes a blocking third of his political team, whether the government consists of 18, 20 or 22 ministers. “He asked me to suggest names for the portfolios according to the sectarian and party distribution that he had prepared.”
24 March: The Cost of Bread Rising
Economy Minister Raoul Nehme has announced that he will increase the cost of a bundle of bread by LBP 500 as of Wednesday the 24th of March.
The cost of the bundle has doubled from LBP 1,500 at the start of the crisis to LBP 3,000 while the weight of a bundle of bread continues to steadily decrease.
24 March: Lebanon’s Private Sector Steps into Speed Up Vaccines
Lebanon’s private sector is stepping in to speed up the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus by importing at least 1 million doses of Russian vaccines, with the aim of reopening businesses struggling through an unprecedented economic crisis, led by Jacques Sarraf, head of the Lebanese Russian Business Council.
Assem Araji who heads the parliament health committee, said Lebanon needs about 10 million vaccines and most of them have been secured, adding that the numbers will start increasing over the coming weeks with the arrival of Sputnik V and AstraZeneca vaccines.
This comes after Araji warned of a national health disaster. “The health sector has collapsed and is reeling.” Araji said noting that around 1000 qualified doctors have left the country.
25 March: Beirut Blast Judge Takes Aim at UK Firm
In the latest updates in the Beirut blast probe, the newly commissioned judge, Tarek Bitar, is going after the United Kingdom-registered company Savaro Ltd which bought 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which caused the Beirut‘s Port.
Savaro Ltd bought the ammonium nitrate from a Georgia-based factory and is reportedly linked to the Syrian regime. According to Al-Jadeed, Judge Bitar is requesting from Switzerland, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, and Germany to lift banking secrecy from the company’s accounts.
British parliamentarians have also been looking into the company. Until now, there is no clear answer as to who owns the company – something that has been making the British MPs scratch their heads.
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