Lebanon’s Aoun asks cabinet to continue in caretaker role until new government forms

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President Michel Aoun asked the cabinet to continue in a caretaker role until a new government is formed. (AFP)
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Security officials and soldiers were trying to clear up roads in Beirut, one of them tried persuading protesters to clear up the Ring Bridge in the center of the capital. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 November 2019

Lebanon’s Aoun asks cabinet to continue in caretaker role until new government forms

  • Lebanese banks will resume normal operations and receive customers on Friday, the banking association said
  • The army released a statement commanding people to protest “in public squares only”

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun on Wednesday asked the cabinet to continue in a caretaker role until a new government is formed, following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday.

Hariri’s resignation toppled his coalition government. He said he had hit a “dead end” in trying to resolve a crisis unleashed by 13 days of protests against the ruling elite.

Meanwhile, the banking association said Lebanese banks will resume normal operations and receive customers on Friday, ending a two-week-long closure caused by massive protests against the country's ruling politicians.
"Thursday will be dedicated to internal work to complete (a backlog) of operations and to prepare to receive customers starting Friday morning," the banking association said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lebanese soldiers and security officials urged protesters to open blocked roads so life could return to normal after 13 days demonstrations paralyzed the country and forced the prime minister to resign.
Troops cleared one major route north of Beirut after briefly scuffling with demonstrators in the morning. A group of soldiers tried to pick up a vehicle blocking the highway before it drove off, Al-Jadeed television footage showed.
At the Ring Bridge in the center of the capital, a security officer tried to persuade crowds to clear the way to nearby hospitals. “I am staying here,” one woman told Reuters as she spread blankets across the road.
Saad Al-Hariri resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister on Tuesday, toppling his coalition government. He said he had hit a “dead end” in trying to resolve the crisis unleashed by the huge protests against the ruling elite.
In a statement, the army command said people had a right to protest, but that applied “in public squares only.”
The main protest camp in a square in the center of the capital was quiet but was closed to traffic by security forces.
Hariri made his resignation speech after a crowd loyal to the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah and Amal movements attacked and destroyed a camp in central Beirut.
It was the most serious strife on the streets of Beirut since 2008, when Hezbollah fighters seized control of the capital in a brief eruption of armed conflict with Lebanese adversaries loyal to Hariri and his allies at the time.
The departure of Hariri, who has been traditionally backed by the West and Sunni Gulf Arab allies, pushes Lebanon into unpredictable political territory.
The protests have compounded Lebanon’s already serious economic woes and banks kept their doors shut on Wednesday.


UN warns of possible ‘war crimes’ in Turkish-controlled Syria

Updated 5 min 1 sec ago

UN warns of possible ‘war crimes’ in Turkish-controlled Syria

  • The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, Bachelet’s office said
  • Those affiliated groups have also seized and looted houses, land and property without any apparent military necessity, said OHCHR

GENEVA: Armed groups in the area of northern Syria controlled by Turkey may have committed war crimes and other violations of international law, the UN rights chief said Friday.
Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the situation in those areas of Syria was grim, with violence and criminality rife.
In a statement, Bachelet’s UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said it had noted an “alarming pattern in recent months of grave violations,” having documented increased killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people, seizures of land and properties and forcible evictions.
The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, Bachelet’s office said.
Those affiliated groups have also seized and looted houses, land and property without any apparent military necessity, said OHCHR.
Furthermore, increased infighting among the various Turkish-affiliated armed groups over power-sharing was causing civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.
Turkey controls large stretches of northeastern Syria through various armed groups, and is conducting operations aimed at driving out Kurdish militias and extremists.
In October last year, Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies occupied a 120-kilometer (75-mile) stretch of land inside the Syrian border from Kurdish forces.
Ankara has also deployed forces in several military posts it established in northwestern Idlib as part of a 2018 deal with regime ally Moscow, while Turkey also controls a stretch of territory along its border in neighboring Aleppo province following a series of military offensives since 2016.Bachelet’s office said it had documented the abduction and disappearance of civilians, including women and children.
It also said that from the start of the year until last Monday, it had verified the deaths of at least 116 civilians as a result of improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war, while a further 463 civilians were injured.
“I urge Turkey to immediately launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation into the incidents we have verified, account for the fate of those detained and abducted by the affiliated armed groups and hold accountable those responsible for what may, in some instances, amount to crimes under international law, including war crimes,” Bachelet said.
“This is all the more vital given that we have received disturbing reports that some detainees and abductees have allegedly been transferred to Turkey following their detention in Syria by affiliated armed groups.”
Meanwhile Bachelet voiced concern that parties to the conflict in Syria were using essential services as a weapon.
“Impeding access to water, sanitation and electricity endangers the lives of large numbers of people, a danger rendered all the more acute amid fighting a global pandemic,” she said.