Lebanon’s leaders in blame game over crisis

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, walks next to President Michel Aoun in Beirut. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 26 December 2019

Lebanon’s leaders in blame game over crisis

  • Tensions rise as president and ex-prime minister accuse each other of being to blame for turmoil in the country

BEIRUT: Tensions between Lebanon’s president and former prime minister have flared after they accused each other of being to blame for the turmoil engulfing the country.

A recession, massive street protests and a political crisis have created financial and security chaos.

Lebanon has had a caretaker government since Oct. 29, when Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister after nearly two weeks of protests.

He has clashed with President Michel Aoun about the leadership and composition of a new administration.

“The problem with the president is that he is acting as if nothing has happened in the country, and he is trying to act smart by endorsing the demands of the revolution, and my stance is clear, I will not be represented in this government and I will not nominate anyone, nor will I give it a confidence vote,” said Hariri. 

“Now they are targeting the political legacy of the Hariri family, and they will try to hold it responsible for all the calamities that have befallen the country, but whoever tries to bury Hariri’s legacy will be as if he would be burying himself. Let us see who really stole from the country. I will not cover anyone, and they should do the same thing.”

Aoun responded to Hariri by saying: “Does he envy me for my resilience and calmness in trying to control the situation, or does he want me to act foolishly and badly? We waited for 100 days for him (Hariri) and nothing came out. We waited for someone who kept hesitating. I want, and I do not want, as if someone was playing with a daisy. A government cannot be formed in this manner.”

Dr. Hassan Diab, a university professor and former education minister, has been nominated to replace Hariri and has started consulting with parliamentary blocs to discuss the shape of a future government. 

But he faces significant hurdles, including a boycott by influential political blocs that refused to nominate him because of the backing he received from the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, the Amal party and their allies.

Bechara Al-Rahi, the Maronite Patriarch, on Sunday urged all political parties to cooperate with Diab and facilitate the formation of a rescue emergency government.

Protesters have demonstrated in Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon against Diab, saying he should abandon the post because he is a member of the ruling elite. Demonstrators blame the ruling elite for widespread corruption and mismanagement in Lebanon.


Health checkups for expatriate workers to return

Updated 12 July 2020

Health checkups for expatriate workers to return

  • Kuwait’s coronavirus tally, just over 54,000, had recent cases attributable to people involved in active transmission

DUBAI: Health inspections for expatriate workers in Kuwait will resume with the reopening of testing centers at a limited capacity to ensure coronavirus safety measures are complied with.

Health inspection centers will also accept online registration to adapt to a 30 percent capacity requirement during the first phase of easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, public health director Dr. Fahad Al-Ghimlas said in a report from state news agency KUNA.

Those registering online will be directed to inspection centers nearest to their addresses or workplaces and expatriate workers can choose their testing schedules based on available timeslots.

The four testing centers – in Shuwaikh, Sabhan, Fahaheel and Jahra – will ensure safety protocols are implemented, including the wearing of masks and social distancing.

Meanwhile, local officials closed a record 122 shops for violating health standards and failing to maintaining social distancing in their selling areas.

Some of the shops included Friday Market, a large supermarket at Mirqab, and a furniture company at a mall, according to Municipality Director Ahmad Al-Manfouhi.

Municipality officials previously sealed off 113 shops before the June 30 phase two of Kuwait’s coronavirus lockdown easing was implement.

Kuwait’s coronavirus tally, just over 54,000, had recent cases attributable to people involved in active transmission.