Protesters reject confidence vote on new Lebanon government

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A demonstrator uses a slingshot to throw a stone during a protest against the newly formed government near the government headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon Jan. 25, 2020. (Reuters)
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Lebanese anti-government demonstrators gather by barricades set by security forces to block a road leading to the government headquarter at the Grand Serail, in downtown Beirut, on Jan. 25, 2020. (AFP)
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A Lebanese anti-government protester uses a flare during a demonstration near government headquarters at the Grand Serail, in downtown Beirut, on Jan. 25, 2020. (AFP)
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A demonstrator holds the Lebanese flag during a protest against the newly formed government outside the government headquarters in downtown Beirut, Lebanon Jan. 25, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 January 2020

Protesters reject confidence vote on new Lebanon government

  • Protestors consider the new government an extension of previous ones accused of corruption
  • Parliament is expected to hold legislative sessions over two days from Monday to discuss the 2020 budget that was prepared by the former government before it resigned

BEIRUT: Protesters in Beirut on Saturday carried banners expressing their objections to the granting on Jan. 21 of a confidence vote on the government of Hassan Diab.
They consider the new government an extension of previous ones accused of corruption. Streets leading to the Parliament were blocked by high concrete walls to ward off any attempt to break through the security cordon around the building.
Parliament is expected to hold legislative sessions over two days from Monday to discuss the 2020 budget that was prepared by the former government of Saad Hariri before it resigned on Oct. 29 under pressure from peaceful demonstrations.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Parliament cannot discuss any task before voting on the 2020 budget plan. This means the confidence vote cannot be held before the budget is endorsed.
Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the new government has to “work on a new draft budget that includes reform plans, with a timeline to implement them.”
Activist Mohammed Kassem told Arab News: “All signs indicate that Diab’s government will head to Parliament to endorse the previous government’s budget that’s full of flaws, especially with regards to the reform pledge.”
He said: “Protesters will step up their actions on the streets until they get a rescue plan, end banks’ policies and their restrictions on people’s deposits, end the Central Bank’s financial policies, and achieve the independence of the judiciary so judges will be able to handle cases with full transparency, especially ones related to recovering embezzled public assets.”
He added: “Activists are trying to forbid political parties from riding the wave of the revolution, and are trying to limit rioting, which has characterized many protests.”
Kassem called on the authorities to protect protesters rather than attack them. He said protesters will remain on the streets to change Lebanon from a “country of banks and money exchange to a productive country.”
There has been leaked information that the government will propose a five-month contingency plan to reform the judiciary; fight illicit enrichment, corruption and economic crime; and modernize public institutions.


Yemen’s terrifying, severely damaged road to Taiz on brink of collapse

Vehicles are pictured on a damaged road, the only travel route between Yemen’s cities of Taiz and Aden. Yemen has been left in ruins by six years of war, where over 24 million people are in need of aid and protection. (AFP)
Updated 25 min 20 sec ago

Yemen’s terrifying, severely damaged road to Taiz on brink of collapse

  • Convoys of vehicles big and small move at a snail’s pace as they squeeze past each other on the narrow road that has been severely damaged over the years by heavy rainfall

TAIZ: Lorries filled to the brim with goods labor up and down the dangerously winding and precipitous road of Hayjat Al-Abed, the mountainous lifeline to Yemen’s third largest city.
Unlike all other routes linking southwest Taiz to the rest of the war-torn country, the road — with its dizzying drop-offs into the valley below — is the only one that has not fallen into the hands of the Houthi rebels.
Some 500,000 inhabitants of the city, which is besieged by the Iran-backed Houthis, depend on the 7-km stretch of crater-filled road for survival, as the long conflict between the insurgents and the government shows no signs of abating.
Convoys of vehicles big and small move at a snail’s pace as they squeeze past each other on the narrow road that has been severely damaged over the years by heavy rainfall.
“As you can see, it is full of potholes, and we face dangerous slopes,” Marwan Al-Makhtary, a young truck driver, told AFP. “Sometimes trucks can no longer move forward, so they stop and roll back.”
Makhtary said nothing was being done to fix the road, and fears are mounting that the inexorable deterioration will ultimately bring the supply of goods to a halt.
Dozens of Taiz residents on Tuesday urged the government to take action, forming a human chain along the road — some of them carrying signs saying: “Save Taiz’s Lifeline.”

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500,000 inhabitants of Taiz, which is besieged by the Iran-backed Houthis, depend on the 7-km stretch of crater-filled road for survival.

“We demand the legitimate government and local administration accelerate efforts to maintain and fix the road,” said one of the protesters, Abdeljaber Numan.
“This is the only road that connects Taiz with the outside world, and the blocking of this artery would threaten the city.”
Sultan Al-Dahbaly, who is responsible for road maintenance in the local administration, said the closure of the road would represent a “humanitarian disaster” in a country already in crisis and where the majority of the population is dependent on aid.
“It is considered a lifeline of the city of Taiz, and it must be serviced as soon as possible because about 5 million people (in the province) would be affected,” he told AFP.

Humanitarian aid
Meanwhile, Yemen’s president on Thursday urged his government’s rival, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, to stop impeding the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid following a warning from the UN humanitarian chief last week that “the specter of famine” has returned to the conflict-torn country.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s plea came in a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aired more than a week after Human Rights Watch warned that all sides in Yemen’s conflict were interfering with the arrival of food, health care supplies, water and sanitation support.