Diplomat leads race to be new Lebanon PM

Diplomat leads race to be new Lebanon PM
The Future Movement will nominate Lebanese ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib to be PM in formal consultations. (File/AFP)
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Updated 31 August 2020

Diplomat leads race to be new Lebanon PM

Diplomat leads race to be new Lebanon PM
  • Lebanon’s Future Movement to nominate Germany ambassador Adib for the post, which must go to a Sunni Muslim
  • The government led by Hassan Diab quit earlier this month following the catastrophic explosion at Beirut port

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s feuding politicians scrambled on Sunday to present a semblance of stability ahead of the arrival in Beirut on Monday of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mustapha Adib, the ambassador to Germany, looks set to be named prime minister after he was nominated by both the Future Movement, the main Sunni bloc led by former prime minister Saad Hariri, and the largest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement, led by former foreign minister Gebran Bassil.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its ally the Amal Movement are also expected to support Adib’s nomination.

He will replace Hassan Diab, who resigned this month amid an outpouring of public anger after a devastating explosion at Beirut port killed nearly 190 people. Lebanon is also grappling with a financial meltdown that has devastated the economy.

Adib, 48, has a Ph.D. in political science and has been Lebanon’s ambassador in Germany since 2013. He is close to former prime minister Najib Mikati.

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Dr. Mustafa Alloush, a leading figure in the Future Movement, told Arab News earlier that the group would nominate “a person who has no political ambition.”

“Our nomination will be consistent with the conditions of French President Emmanuel Macron, that is, the character should not be one of the politicians in power,” he said.

Adib already faces opposition from the ranks of demonstrators who have taken to the streets since last October in protest at Lebanon’s inept and corrupt political class. 

“We reject the outcome of parliamentary consultations, which is already known in advance and will, as usual, lead to a so-called government of national unity, one that is cooked up abroad,” said Naji Abou Khalil, a member of the National Bloc opposition party that backs the protest movement.

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In his Sunday sermon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai said he was hoping for “a mini emergency government with the necessary powers for the state to rise from the bottom of its economic, financial and social misery and achieve the required reforms.”

He called for “a new state with new official faces characterized by independence, integrity and political experience, not stained by the epidemic of corruption.”

Macron will arrive in Beirut on Monday evening to press for political reform and reconstruction. His second visit since the port blast coincides with celebrations on Tuesday to mark Lebanon’s centenary.

The US too is urging change, and Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker will also visit this week.

The post of prime minister must go to a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon’s sectarian system. Adib’s candidacy won vital political backing on Sunday from former prime ministers including Saad Al-Hariri, who heads the biggest Sunni party, the Future Movement.

President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, is due to meet parliamentary blocs on Monday in the official consultations to designate the new premier. He is required to nominate the candidate with biggest level of support among MPs.

Lebanon’s dominant Shiite parties, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, will both name Adib at the consultations, a senior Shiite source said.

The Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), a political ally of Hezbollah which was founded by Aoun and is led today by his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, will do the same, Bassil told Reuters.

Once designated, the process of forming a new government will get underway. Until a new administration is agreed, the Diab government continues in a caretaker capacity.

Lebanon’s financial crisis has sunk the currency by as much as 80% since October, locked savers out their deposits in a paralyzed banking system and fueled poverty and unemployment.

Lebanon launched talks with the International Monetary Fund in May, after defaulting on its huge debt, aiming to secure financial support but these have stalled amid divisions on the Lebanese side over the scale of losses in the financial system. 


UAE confirms record 3,529 new COVID-19 cases plus 4 more deaths

UAE confirms record 3,529 new COVID-19 cases plus 4 more deaths
Updated 22 January 2021

UAE confirms record 3,529 new COVID-19 cases plus 4 more deaths

UAE confirms record 3,529 new COVID-19 cases plus 4 more deaths
  • Dubai Economy issued 2,100 fines and warnings, and closed down 175 businesses in 2020
  • Kuwait records 570 cases, Oman reports 169 cases and 1 death

DUBAI: Authorities in the UAE on Thursday recorded 3,529 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest daily count to date, and four more deaths related to the disease.
Officials from the Ministry of Health and Prevention said the total number of cases in the country has reached 267,258, while the death toll stands at 766. A total of 239,322 patients have recovered from the disease, including 3,901 in the past 24 hours.
Dubai Economy, the emirate’s economic development authority, said it carried out 140,000 inspection visits last year, as a result of which it issued 2,100 fines and warnings, and closed down 175 businesses for failing to comply with precautionary measures designed to slow the spread of the virus.

During their latest daily inspection tours, the authority’s officials ordered one business to close, and issued 23 fines and two warnings for not following the health precautions.
Meanwhile Dubai Municipality announced it has stepped up its inspection campaigns. It added that five businesses were ordered to close, 18 were fined, and warnings were issued to 31 for lack of compliance with precautionary measures.
Dubai Tourism said it has issued more than 200 violation notices during the past three weeks and closed down about 20 establishments. It also announced that all previously issued entertainment permits are “on hold, effective immediately,” and added it will continue to evaluate the situation in consultation with the health authorities.
The General Department of Punitive and Correctional Institutions in Dubai Police has started to give the coronavirus vaccine to inmates of penal and correctional institutions, as part of the emirate’s efforts to achieve acquired immunity, according to a report by state news agency WAM.

Inmates reportedly said they were happy to be vaccinated and praised Dubai Police and medical staff in the prisons for providing them with the vaccinations, medical advice and check ups.
The Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, has launched a campaign to vaccinate people with disabilities, and their families. The effort will begin at the organization’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, before expanding to Al-Ain and Al-Dhafra regions.

Abdullah Abdul Ali Al-Humaidan, the organization’s secretary-general, said that the vaccine is the safest and most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and maintain the health and safety of the public.
Meanwhile, Umm Al-Quwain’s Executive Council informed all government agencies in the emirate that anti-coronavirus measures due to be implemented from Jan. 24 are being amended. The notice said all government employees will be required to take a PCR test every seven days, at their own expense, if they have not received the required two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This also applies to outsourced employees and public-service companies.
The council also urged all government agencies in the emirate to encourage their employees and workers to get the vaccination, which is available to everyone free of charge.
Elsewhere, Kuwait reported 570 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total in the country to 159,834. The death toll remains at 951, with no additional deaths reported in the previous 24 hours.

Oman’s health ministry confirmed 169 new cases and one additional death, bringing the national totals to 132,486 and 1,517, respectively.

In Bahrain the death toll stands at 366 after no new deaths were reported. The number of confirmed cases in the country increased by 305.