Lebanon MPs accuse Aoun of ‘acting as a party’

Deputies in the Lebanese Parliament have accused President Michel Aoun of acting “as a party, not as a president entrusted with the constitution.” (AFP/File Photo)
Deputies in the Lebanese Parliament have accused President Michel Aoun of acting “as a party, not as a president entrusted with the constitution.” (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 23 January 2021

Lebanon MPs accuse Aoun of ‘acting as a party’

Deputies in the Lebanese Parliament have accused President Michel Aoun of acting “as a party, not as a president entrusted with the constitution.” (AFP/File Photo)
  • Aoun defended himself against accusations of blocking the formation of government
  • Forming of opposition against Lebanese president depends on Christian bloc

BEIRUT: Deputies in the Lebanese Parliament have accused President Michel Aoun of acting “as a party, not as a president entrusted with the constitution.”

On Saturday, MP Anwar Al-Khalil said that Aoun’s media office’s statement on Friday “undermines the Lebanese people’s minds and destroys the hope of forming an important government. It is also a digression from obstinacy and stubbornness.”

Friday’s statement said Aoun was a “partner in choosing ministers and distributing ministerial portfolios.”

Al-Khalil reminded Aoun that “the constitution named you as president, a symbol of national unity and a protector of the constitution.”

“Your advisers are making you one team. Enough bickering! Support the whole country and save it from collapse,” Al-Khalil said.

Aoun defended himself and the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), MP Gebran Bassil, against the accusation of obstructing the formation of a government, which raised tension between him and Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri.

MP Hadi Abu Al-Hassan said: “Hariri is faced with a crippling process in order to force him to resign.” He added that the president and the FPM “do not want the return of Hariri as prime minister without Bassil in the government.”

He criticized Aoun, saying: “The covenant is unconscious. It lives somewhere else, as attested to by all, and through his practices, he wants to monopolize everything.”

“The problem in the country is the non-presence of a conscious central authority that is aware of what is happening. It is absent and today, we are reaping what was sown,” he said.

Former MP Mustafa Alloush, who is also the Future Movement’s vice president, said the president’s objective was “to make Bassil afloat again and move the presidency to his son-in-law. It is not the rescue of the republic.”

Alloush said that the new government should “lend a helping hand to establishments and countries. Lebanon might be able to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to have a loan, however, if that is not followed by CEDRE (Conference for Economic Development and Reform through Enterprises) and aid from the Gulf and the US, we will have increased our debt to the IMF.”

He said the other team, specifically Hezbollah, was not interested in the rescue operation. “Aoun and the FPM rely on Hezbollah to justify their stubbornness to obstruct the formation of the government, with the aim of making Bassil president.” He said Bassil was subjected to US and personal sanctions that were neither accepted by the Gulf nor internationally and “they are trying to impose a de facto government.”

On the calls to form an opposition against Aoun and his political team, Alloush said: “There is a lot of talk, but if these parties agree on the idea, they disagree on the details.”

Abdel-Sattar Al-Laz, adviser to former prime minister, Tammam Salam, told Arab News: “A meeting was held a while ago at Salam’s house. It included former heads of government, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, and addressed the possible scenarios to solve the stalemate in the country.”

Forming an opposition was difficult at the moment, Al-Laz said. “Any new opposition needs Christian and Shiite participation and cannot be limited to Sunni forces and a Druze party. There is a need for a Christian team such as the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb, and those have their personal agendas. The opposition cannot be formed of independent people. It is required to have driving forces with a real representation.”

“The ball is in the court of the Christian partner. Can they form an opposition against the president to ask for his removal or pressure him to resign? Such opposition should be headed by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai, and I rule out its formation since it will affect the position of the Maronite presidency. In that light, there is no hope except to wait for change in the region, otherwise, we are facing a dead end.”


Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow

Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow
Updated 3 min 38 sec ago

Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow

Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow

ANKARA: Turkey and Egypt could negotiate a maritime demarcation agreement in the eastern Mediterranean if their ties, which have been strained, allow for such a move, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.
Last month, Egypt announced the start of a bid round for oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation in 24 blocks including some in the Mediterranean.
Speaking at a news conference with his Georgian counterpart in Ankara, Cavusoglu said Egypt’s exploration bids had respected Turkey’s continental shelf and that Ankara viewed this positively. 


UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours
Updated 21 min 42 sec ago

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours
  • The country’s COVID-19 caseload is now at 399,463

DUBAI: The UAE confirmed 2,692 new coronavirus cases and 16 deaths on Wednesday as the Emirates continues to expand its testing of citizens and residents for the early detection of the highly contagious disease.

The country’s COVID-19 caseload is now at 399,463, with a total of 1,269 fatalities related to coronavirus.

Health officials have conducted 218,351 additional COVID-19 tests overnight, state news agency WAM said, with the total number of tests now over 31 million.

The UAE leads the world in terms of conducting coronavirus tests relative to the size of population, with infection rates compared to the total tests being among the lowest in the region and the entire world, WAM earlier said.

It is also tops the global tally on COVID-19 vaccinations after implementing a vaccination campaign to for residents and citizens to achieve mass immunity. More than six million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been provided and 3,614,070 people have been vaccinated to date, which accounts for 46.61 percent of the target population.


Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack
Updated 03 March 2021

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis said Wednesday he still expected to make his historic visit to Iraq in two days time, after a rocket attack on a military base hosting US-led coalition troops.
"The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much," the 84-year-old Francis said in his weekly Wednesday address.
The Argentine pontiff asked for prayers for the trip, the first ever by a pope to Iraq, through which he hopes to encourage the dwindling Christian community to remain in their ancient homeland while broadening his outreach to Islam.
"I ask you to accompany this apostolic journey with your prayers so that it may take place in the best possible way and bear the hoped-for fruits," the pope said.
He added: "The Iraqi people are waiting for us, they were waiting for Saint John Paul II, who was forbidden to go. One cannot disappoint a people for the second time. Let us pray that this journey will be successful."
At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops earlier on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead.
The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq's western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Francis said the pope would be travelling by armoured vehicle and that he would not be meeting crowds.
"This is a particular situation, that's why the transports will all be in a closed vehicle, meaning it will be complicated to see the pope on the streets," spokesman Matteo Brunei said.
"There will be a number of meetings but none will be more than a few hundred people," he said.


New government takes oath before Kuwait emir

New government takes oath before Kuwait emir
Updated 03 March 2021

New government takes oath before Kuwait emir

New government takes oath before Kuwait emir

DUBAI: Kuwait Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah called on the executive and legislative authorities in his country to cooperate as a new government took oath before him, according to state-run news agency KUNA. 

Sheikh Nawaf received at his Bayan Palace the prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to swear-in as head of cabinet.
Ministers of the new government were also sworn in.

The previous government had resigned in January.
Oil Minister Mohammad Abdulatif Al-Fares, Finance Minister Khalifa Hamade and Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah were reappointed in the new cabinet.

 


COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population

COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population
Updated 03 March 2021

COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population

COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population
  • The UAE has been ranked as one of the top countries in coronavirus jabs by Our World in Data
  • It has also approved four coronavirus vaccines

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will soon be one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate most of its population against coronavirus, TV channel Al-Arabiya reported.
“With the dedicated effort of the UAE government to combat the pandemic – for which we are truly thankful for, and the willingness of the general public to support the programs led by the government, UAE may soon be the first country to vaccinate its entire population and hence, reach herd immunity,” specialist in emergency medicine at Bareen International Hospital Fouad Al-Rahal told Al-Arabiya English.
The UAE has been ranked as one of the top countries in coronavirus jabs by Our World in Data, a collaboration between researchers at the University of Oxford and the non-profit Global Change Data Lab.
According to Our World in Data, UAE has administered at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 60 percent of its population.
The Gulf state’s National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority reported that over six million vaccine doses have been administered across the seven emirates, with a rate of 60.82 doses per 100 people.
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The UAE has approved four coronavirus vaccines, the Chinese Sinopharm, US-German Pfizer-BioNTech, UK-Swedish Oxford-AstraZeneca and Russian Sputnik V.