Hariri hopes Lebanon will ‘turn a new page’ in 2019

Saad Al-Hariri. (Reuters)
Updated 31 December 2018
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Hariri hopes Lebanon will ‘turn a new page’ in 2019

  • Saad Hariri, hoped a new government would be formed in 2019

BEIRUT: Thousands of troops were on Lebanon’s streets Monday as the country prepared to ring in 2019.

A huge party was held in central Beirut for the second consecutive year, attracting people from the city’s neighborhoods and surrounding districts, and there were tough security measures in place from the military.

The Defense Ministry suspended issuing permits for carrying firearms on all Lebanese territory, and 13,000 military personnel were deployed to protect tourists, places of worship and commercial facilities, as well as manage traffic congestion.

Security forces reiterated their call for people to refrain from the deadly tradition of celebratory gunfire, saying that those carrying out this act would face prosecution.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, speaking at an event in the capital, said he hoped a new government would be formed in 2019.

The elections were in May 2018.

“I want the Lebanese to rejoice so that we turn a new page and think of the country and the people,” he said. “I hope the celebration meets the aspirations of the Lebanese people, and especially the people of Beirut.”

Economic bodies stressed the need to form a government at the beginning of 2019 and expressed their regret for the current turmoil, amid calls from social media users for a general strike. 

The country’s finance minister had earlier warned that Lebanon was entering a financial crisis.

“The repercussions and consequences of the economic crisis today are at their highest. “The crisis today has started to transform into a financial crisis from an economic crisis,” said Ali Hassan Khalil late on Saturday, according to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency.

“We hope it will not become a monetary crisis,” he said.

Grocery shops in Beirut were packed, a sign that some families were preparing to spend New Year’s Eve at home, with prices for festivities skyrocketing to as much as $1,500 per person.


Gibraltar court extends detention of Iranian tanker for 30 days

Updated 24 min 23 sec ago
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Gibraltar court extends detention of Iranian tanker for 30 days

  • The Grace 1 was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police on July 4
  • Supertanker was believed destined for Syria to deliver oil

GIBRALTAR: Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that a seized Iranian tanker suspected of breaching sanctions by shipping oil to Syria can be detained for 30 more days, the British territory’s attorney general said.
The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police on July 4 as it transited through waters claimed by Gibraltar, which is located on Spain’s southern tip.
An initial order by the court authorizing the detention of the vessel would lapse after Friday. The order can be renewed for up to 90 days.
“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament.
Picardo said Thursday he had a “constructive and positive” meeting with Iranian officials in London aimed at defusing tensions around the detention of the tanker in the British territory’s waters.
Gibraltar and US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.
Iran has reacted with fury to what it termed “piracy” and warned it would not let the interception go unanswered.
Last week, a British warship in the Gulf warned off armed Iranian boats that tried to stop a UK supertanker. London has since announced the deployment of two more warships to the Gulf region for the coming months.
The Gibraltar court ruling comes as tensions in the Gulf region mounted Friday after Washington said an Iranian drone was destroyed after threatening an American naval vessel at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.
It was believed to be the first US military engagement with Iran following a series of increasingly serious incidents.
Iran denied losing any drones.