Perform or quit, archbishop tells Lebanese leaders

Protesters chant slogans and wave Lebanese flags during a demonstration at Martyrs’ Square during ongoing anti-government protests in Beirut. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 February 2020

Perform or quit, archbishop tells Lebanese leaders

  • The new government faces strong financial pressures, including benefits to pay off state debt next month, an acute shortage of dollar liquidity leading to a decrease in confidence in banks

BEIRUT: Archbishop Abdel Sater has told Lebanon’s political rulers to find solutions to the country’s problems or choose an “honorable” resignation.
He told them: “Lebanese people, who trusted you and elected you in May 2018, trust you to reform the political, economic, financial and social imbalances and work along with the true revolutionaries, who have goodwill, to find solutions that guarantee a decent living for every citizen. Otherwise, resignation is more honorable.”
President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri were told by Sater that “the people will explode after they get tired of the vulgar accusations between the responsible political leaders and the recrimination for gains.”
He added: “He who promotes intolerance and discrimination in his speech is neither a national leader nor a good official, and he who deems the homeland his and his children’s property, monopolizes power, practices tyranny and oppresses those who trusted him is not a leader.”
The three politicians met at Mar Maroun Church in Gemmayze in Beirut on Sunday to celebrate the day of the patron saint of the Maronite Church, Mar Maroun (St. Maron).
The celebration needed tight security to prevent protesters from approaching the processions. Activists are holding sit-ins in the squares close to the church.
During a meeting held a few days ago at the Baabda Palace, the Supreme Defense Council discussed measures to ensure MPs’ access to Parliament on the day of the session for giving confidence to the government formed by Diab.
While the council did not reveal its measures, which remain secret, concrete walls are blocking most of the roads leading to Parliament. The council left only one or two routes open for easy control.
Activist Mahmoud Fakih told Arab News: “The activist groups in the civil movement will try to prevent MPs from reaching Parliament to give confidence to a government that does not meet our ambitions.
“Arrests of activists also continue in an attempt to intimidate people and prevent them from expressing their pain,” he said, adding: “We are betting on recharging the street as there is increasing pressure on people’s livelihoods.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Protesters to prevent members of Parliament from supporting trust motion.

• Activists believe the government’s plan does not include listening to protester demands.

The new government faces strong financial pressures, including benefits to pay off state debt next month, an acute shortage of dollar liquidity leading to a decrease in confidence in banks — which continue to increase their strict restrictions on capital movement — the continued weakening of the lira and rising prices.
The extent of the confidence that the government will gain in Parliament is set to greatly impact its work, especially since the main forces supporting it are concerned about the possibility of a decrease in the number of votes it will receive in light of the negative echoes of the ministerial statement that the government has put in place.
Activists believe the government’s plan does not include listening to protester demands.
Nizar Hassan, a researcher of social movements, told Arab News: “We have put in place a ministerial statement as an alternative to the government’s. We do not want to be accused of rejecting it for the sake of it. We have clear alternatives and a work program that serves as a basis for our opposition.”
Hassan revealed that “the alternative statement was discussed in the protest tents in all regions and has been revised to represent every activist group, therefore voicing demands regarding the economic affairs and serving as their language and focus of their demands.”
Some of the demands put forward include reversing all tax increases approved within the budgets of 2019 and 2020, imposing a progressive tax on wealth, abolishing the Bank Secrecy Act and waiving the immunity of MPs and ministers.


Oman’s expat exodus continues as country continues nationalization push

Updated 4 min 10 sec ago

Oman’s expat exodus continues as country continues nationalization push

  • The expat population in Oman stood at 1,747,844 in August
  • The new figure comes as the country continues to implement nationalization programs

DUBAI: More than 50,000 expatriates left Oman in August, national daily Time of Oman reported, citing government data.

The new figure comes as the country continues to implement nationalization programs, particularly integrating more Omanis into the country’s workforce.

According to the new census provided by the National Center for Statistics and Information, the expat population in Oman stood at 1,747,844 in August, which showed a decrease of 53,895 from the previous month.

More than 6,000 locals have been added to the country’s national population in the same period.

But the massive decline in the number of expats in Oman has resulted in a general 3.88 percent population dip – from 4,527,934 to 4,480,333 between August 2019 and 2020.

All governorates in Oman reported a decline in population, but Muscat, the country’s capital city, showed the drop at 6.2 percent, followed by the southern governorate of Dhofar with a 5.6 percent drop.