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.


Egypt to ban Ramadan gatherings to counter spread of coronavirus

Updated 42 min 13 sec ago

Egypt to ban Ramadan gatherings to counter spread of coronavirus

  • Egypt will ban any gatherings and public iftars

CAIRO: Egypt will ban any public religious gatherings during the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan starting in around two weeks to counter the spread of the new coronavirus, a government statement said on Tuesday.
Muslims usually break the fast at sunset together with their families, go to the mosque to pray and spend maximum time with relatives.
But with health experts recommending social distancing measures during the global coronavirus crisis, Egypt will ban any gatherings and public iftars, or fast-breaking meals, as well as collective social activities, the ministry of Islamic endowments said in a statement.
Typically mass iftars are held for poor people.
The ban will also apply to the seclusion of Itikaf when Muslims spend the last 10 days of the month in mosques to pray and meditate, the ministry said.
Egypt has reported more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with more than 250 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
Egypt is home to some 100 million people and also the seat of the Al-Azhar university, Egypt’s highest religious authority and one of the world’s most eminent seats of Sunni Muslim learning.
Ramadan will start around April 23 depending on the sighting of the moon marking the start of the month.
Egypt already last month ordered mosques and churches to shut their doors to worshippers. Prayer calls are broadcast via loudspeakers.