Saad Hariri could lead Lebanese government again

Saad Hariri could lead Lebanese government again
Saad Hariri could lead Lebanon’s government again amid proposals to bring him back. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 October 2020

Saad Hariri could lead Lebanese government again

Saad Hariri could lead Lebanese government again
  • Clerics criticize political elite for neglecting the people

BEIRUT: Saad Hariri could lead Lebanon’s government again amid proposals to bring him back, almost a year after he resigned as prime minister in response to mass protests about the country’s dire economic and financial situation.

Mustapha Adib quit as prime minister-designate a week ago after failing to form a government of specialists independent from the parties in power. 

Lebanon desperately needs an international bailout and France, in particular, is urging politicians to begin much-needed reforms to deal with the grave problems facing the country.

Last week French President Emmanuel Macron gave leaders more time to form a government of specialists as part of an initiative to rescue the country. 

But key players are overriding some of the conditions set, notably Hezbollah and the Amal Movement who insist on keeping the finance portfolio and naming the Shiite ministers in the government.

Two opinions prevail in Lebanon. One is that the government will not be formed before the US presidential elections in November. The other is that President Michel Aoun will soon set a date for parliamentary consultations, and the possibility of facilitating Hariri’s return to head the government is being proposed based on positive signs.

Mustafa Alloush, a leading figure in the Future Movement, said that Hariri was committed to the French initiative and that his convictions remained changed. “The movement that is taking place and the proposals have not reached a result,” Alloush told Arab News. “An independent government is required for Hariri to head it.”

In terms of Aoun setting a date for parliamentary consultations, Alloush said that the president would undergo a 14-day quarantine in light of a coronavirus case among those close to Baabda Palace and that the US elections would be approaching by then.

Regarding an initiative from former Prime Minister Najib Mikati to form a techno-political government headed by Hariri, Alloush said: “This is one of the ideas discussed, but Hariri stipulated in his response the implementation of the French initiative.”

MP Nicolas Nahas, who is from the Mikati parliamentary bloc, said: “Lebanon missed a golden opportunity by wasting the French initiative for illogical reasons in light of the accumulated crises we are suffering from.”

He added that Lebanon was in the middle of a complete collapse and what was required was to form a government as soon as possible, including politicians and specialists. “Prime Minister Mikati’s proposal aimed to help solve the problem of the government issue after it became clear that separating politics from the economy is difficult and led to the failure of the former Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib’s mission.”

The lack of progress led to clergy renewing their criticism of politicians.

On Sunday the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai said: “The enormity of the situation and the possibility of developments of a diverse nature necessitates the acceleration of the formation of a government that embodies the aspirations of the citizens, to organize the constitutional and charter work, so that no one allows himself to exploit the state of constitutional coma, the presence of a caretaker government, the coronavirus pandemic, or what is worse than that, to create a fait accompli.”

He also warned of a possible brain-drain, saying that Lebanese youth had a tendency to leave the country in search of “work, security and a decent life.”

The Metropolitan of Beirut and its Territory for the Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop Elias Odeh used his Sunday sermon to attack “the lack of mercy” among the country’s leaders for their refusal to hear people’s grievances and for turning a blind eye to their despair.

He said: “Honest officials do not sleep if a citizen in their country is in pain. How can they sleep when the country is dying, the economy has collapsed, the pound has lost its value, emigration has multiplied, and misery is common?” 

He warned: “What we are going through in Lebanon now is a harbinger of worse to come.”

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.