Top Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil infected with coronavirus

Gebran Bassil, a Lebanese politician and head of the Free Patriotic movement, talks during an interview with Reuters in Sin-el-fil, Lebanon July 7, 2020. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 28 September 2020

Top Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil infected with coronavirus

  • Bassil is the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and a former foreign minister who heads the country’s largest Christian political bloc
  • He discovered he was infected on Saturday after several tests

BEIRUT: Former Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has been infected with the coronavirus, he said on Sunday, as cases surge throughout the country.

Bassil, the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and leader of the country’s largest Christian political bloc, said he had tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Saturday.

The party said he had a mild case of the disease and had made it public as a “message to everyone who has had contact with him recently.” He would quarantine himself until he overcame the virus, it said.

“Bassil wanted to issue this statement to inform all those he was recently in contact with, as they could not all be contacted individually, and to apologize for not knowing in advance about the matter,” the political party said in the statement.

The statement did not specify when Bassil last met with the 85-year-old Aoun.

Lebanon’s leading politicians have been meeting frequently in recent weeks amid efforts to form a new government.

The country has seen a spike in coronavirus infections following a devastating Aug. 4 port blast. On Saturday, the country registered a record 1,280 new daily infections. The virus has killed at least 340 people.

Bassil is widely unpopular among Lebanon’s street protesters, many of whom made sarcastic comments on social media.

“Corona announces that it has been infected with the Gebran Bassil virus,” one wrote.

He is the third Lebanese politician to be infected, after former minister Mohammed Safadi and current caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe.

 


Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

Updated 22 October 2020

Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

  • Hariri immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan
  • He has previously led three governments in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Three-time Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri was named to the post for a fourth time Thursday and immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan.
Hariri said he would “form a cabinet of non politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap.”
“I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out and this is the only and last chance facing our country,” he added.
President Michel Aoun named Hariri to form a new cabinet to lift the country out of crisis after most parliamentary blocs backed his nomination.
Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down almost a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against the political class.
“The president summoned... Saad Al-Deen Al-Hariri to task him with forming a government,” a spokesman for the presidency said.
Hariri was backed by a majority of 65 lawmakers, while 53 abstained.
Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades and still reeling from a devastating port blast that killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of Beirut in August.
Aoun warned Wednesday that the new prime minister, the third in a year, would have to spearhead reforms and battle corruption.
A relatively unknown diplomat, Mustapha Adib, had been nominated in late August following the resignation of his predecessor Hassan Diab’s government in the aftermath of the deadly port blast.
Adib had vowed to form a cabinet of experts, in line with conditions set by French President Emmanuel Macron to help rescue the corruption-ridden country from its worst ever economic crisis.
He faced resistance from some of the main parties however and threw in the towel nearly a month later, leaving Lebanon rudderless to face soaring poverty and the aftermath of its worst peacetime disaster.