Lebanese to contest by-poll from Iran jail

Zakka wrote of Lebanese politician Mohamad Chatah who was assassinated in Beirut.. (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Lebanese to contest by-poll from Iran jail

  • Nizar Zakka announced he will run for the by-election to fill the vacant Sunni seat in the district of Tripoli

BEIRUT: A Lebanese citizen imprisoned in Iran, Nizar Zakka, announced in a message he sent from Tehran’s Evin prison that he will run for the by-election to fill the vacant Sunni seat in the district of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. 

Zakka, an information technology expert, was kidnapped in September 2015 on his way to Tehran airport after having accepted an invitation from Iran to attend a scientific conference. 

He was a permanent resident of the US, where he served as secretary-general of the Arab ICT Organization in Washington. Iranian authorities have accused him of “spying for the US.” 

Zakka pledged in a message distributed by his family and lawyer to be Lebanese voters’ “loud voice in Parliament, and the voice of every ordinary citizen who has lost his right in a state that knows no justice.” 

He wrote that the Lebanese state had conspired against him when he was kidnapped and “detained in one of the most appalling prisons in the world.” 

He added: “For four years, I have been living in an underground grave between sewers and rats.”

Zakka saluted Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the parties, civil society organizations and personalities that have supported him and his cause. 

“Not a day goes by while I am in prison that I do not remember Mohamad Chatah, and I am sure that had he gotten invited to Iran and responded to the invitation, he would have met the same fate,” Zakka wrote. 

Chatah, a Lebanese politician and economist, was assassinated in 2013 by a car bomb in Beirut. 

He was born in Tripoli, served as finance minister in 2008, and was among the most prominent advisers to Hariri’s Future Movement.


Lebanese cabinet approves draft state budget

Updated 17 min 6 sec ago
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Lebanese cabinet approves draft state budget

  • Budget is seen as a critical test of the government's determination to make changes
  • Could help unlock some $11 billion in financing

BEIRUT: The Lebanese cabinet approved the draft state budget on Friday and a session to formally seal it will be held at the presidential palace, government ministers said.
"All the clauses and articles have been agreed on," Finance Minister Ali Hassan said after a cabinet meeting in an interview with broadcaster NBN.
The information minister said in a news conference the draft budget cut the deficit to 7.5% of GDP from 11.5% in 2018. "Now, praise God, we are done. The budget is complete," Information Minister Jamal Jarrah said.
The budget is seen as a critical test of the government's determination to make changes that have been put off for years by a state riddled with corruption and waste. Lebanon has one of the heaviest public debt burdens in the world.
The budget could help unlock some $11 billion in financing pledged at a Paris donors' conference last year for infrastructure investment, if it wins the approval of donors along with other reforms.