Speaker sets Thursday session to elect new Lebanese president

Special Speaker sets Thursday session to elect new Lebanese president
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri chairs a parliament session in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 26, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 September 2022

Speaker sets Thursday session to elect new Lebanese president

Speaker sets Thursday session to elect new Lebanese president
  • Parliament will turn into an electoral body until a new president is elected to succeed Michel Aoun, whose term ends on Oct. 31
  • Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian said the new president needs to abide by the Taif Agreement and Lebanon’s Arab identity

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s MPs are set to meet on Thursday to elect a new president.

Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri set the session for Thursday a day after parliament approved the 2022 budget, one of the mandatory conditions for the preliminary agreement signed between Lebanon and the International Monetary Fund.

Parliament will turn into an electoral body until a new president is elected to succeed Michel Aoun, whose term ends on Oct. 31.

Does this mean that Berri has suspended legislation in parliament, especially the reforms required by the IMF, until after the election of a new president?

Berri pledged to set a date to elect a new president after securing political consensus on a potential candidate.

Issam Ismail, a professor of constitutional law at the Lebanese University, believes that Berri properly implemented the constitutional text that obliges him to call parliament to convene during September.

“If we reach Sept. 30 and Berri does not set a session to elect a new president, he loses the right to do so in October.”

Ismail said: “Preventing parliament from exercising its legislative power is only applicable during the session designated to elect a president; in other sessions, parliament is not considered an electoral body. This was adopted during the period of the election of a successor to former presidents Emile Lahoud and Michel Suleiman.”

He added: “The Lebanese constitution did not specify a quorum for the session to elect a president. It was assumed that no MP would fail this constitutional duty by not attending. However, some MPs were absent in previous election sessions and violated their constitutional duty, so parliament decided to adopt a two-thirds quorum in all voting sessions.”

During his meeting with Sunni MPs on Saturday, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian said the new president needs to abide by the Taif Agreement and Lebanon’s Arab identity, which was welcomed by the Christian parties in Lebanon.

On Tuesday, Derian received the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil, and a delegation from the movement.

After the meeting, Bassil said: “We heard a patriotic discourse from Dar Al-Fatwa, especially in terms of adhering to the constitution and the Taif Agreement, which we also adhere to and are committed to implementing in terms of decentralization, in particular, the establishment of a senate, and the abolition of sectarianism.”

The Taif Agreement was reached in September 1989 to provide the basis for an end to the civil war and a return to political normalcy in Lebanon.

Bassil said the FPM rejects Lebanon’s interference in the affairs of Arab countries or any other countries, and seeks to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, its Arab position, and to live in peace.

The FPM insists on having “a president who enjoys the required political credentials and a popular representation of the Lebanese people,” he added.


Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans
Updated 7 sec ago

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans
ROME: Italian police said on Wednesday they had detained 13 far-right activists in Verona for an assault on Moroccan soccer fans who were celebrating their historic qualification for the World Cup quarter-finals.
The supporters were revelling in the center of the northern Italian city on Tuesday evening after Morocco’s victory over Spain when they were attacked by a group of men dressed in black with their faces covered, the police said in a statement.
Those held “were identified by investigators as militants of far-right groups in the city,” it said.
Morocco’s World Cup progress has seen vibrant celebrations by its supporters in cities with large Moroccan immigrant populations around the world, which have sometimes turned violent.
Their victory over Belgium in the group stage sparked riots in Brussels, and on Tuesday evening video footage showed fans lighting flares and throwing furniture and other objects in the center of Milan.
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant League party, tweeted the images of the Milan episodes, saying he hoped those responsible would be identified and made to pay for the damage to property.
He did not comment on the incidents in Verona.

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition
Updated 12 min 56 sec ago

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition
  • The ban would also apply to immediate family members of any current or former officials targeted
  • The State Department did not list who would be affected

WASHINGTON: The United States said Wednesday it would bar visas to any current or former Sudanese officials who hold up a transition to democracy, hoping to boost a tentative deal between the military and civilians.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced US support for the initial agreement announced Monday, which some pro-democracy protesters see as falling short on specifics and timelines.
“Recognizing the fragility of democratic transitions, the United States will hold to account spoilers — whether military or political actors — who attempt to undermine or delay democratic progress,” Blinken said in a statement.
The ban would also apply to immediate family members of any current or former officials targeted. The State Department did not list who would be affected.
“We once again call on Sudan’s military leaders to cede power to civilians, respect human rights and end violence against protesters,” Blinken said.
“At the same time, we urge representatives of Sudan’s civilian leaders to negotiate in good faith and place the national interest first.”
Longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019 following massive youth-led protests but the army chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, in October last year derailed the transition by carrying out a military coup.
The United States following the coup suspended $700 million in aid that was meant to help Sudan cope economically as it moves toward democracy.
The latest US step is an expansion of visa restrictions imposed during the first stage of Sudan’s democratic transition.


Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
Updated 07 December 2022

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
  • ‘Freedom trampled under pretext of protecting security,’ says Mohammad Khatami
  • Former leader calls on regime to meet protesters’ demands ‘before it is too late’

LONDON: Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami has praised anti-regime protests and urged authorities to meet protesters’ demands “before it is too late,” the BBC reported.

The two-term reformist president, who served between 1997 and 2005, described “woman, life, freedom” as a “beautiful slogan,” and said that it showed Iranian society was moving toward a better future.

Khatami also criticized the security forces’ crackdown and arrest of students.

“It should not be allowed that freedom and security are placed in opposition to one another, and that as a result freedom is trampled under the pretext of maintaining security, or that security is ignored in the name of freedom,” he said.

“I advise officials to appreciate this presence and instead of dealing with it unjustly, extend a helping hand to them and, with their help, recognize the wrong aspects of governance and move toward good governance before it is too late.”

Khatami’s comments came in a statement to mark Student Day on Wednesday, with students having been at the forefront of the wave of protests that are now into their fourth month.

Protests were sparked by the September murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police.

Her death ignited pent-up frustrations over falling living standards, and discrimination against women and minorities.

Protests have spread to more than 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 of Iran’s provinces, and are now considered the most serious challenge to the regime since it took power in the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s leadership has sought to portray the protests as “riots” instigated by “foreign enemies.”

Despite the brutal crackdown by security forces, which have led to the deaths of 473 protesters and the detention of more than 18,000 people, demonstrations show little sign of abating, with Khatami describing student involvement as “perhaps unprecedented.”

Iran’s judiciary also sentenced five protesters to death on charges of “corruption of the Earth” on Tuesday, with 11 others, including three children” handed long prison sentences.

Director of Iran Human Rights Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP News: “These people are sentenced after unfair processes and without due process. The aim is to spread fear and make people stop protesting.”

A total of 11 protesters have now been sentenced to death, with the country’s judiciary chief saying on Monday that executions will be carried out “soon.”


Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
Updated 07 December 2022

Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
  • Over 500 people killed, says rights body
  • ‘Crackdown led by President Ebrahim Raisa’

LONDON: Iranian authorities have executed more than 500 people this year, according to data released by Iran Human Rights.

Up more than 50 percent on 2021’s figure of 333, the spike in executions marks a dramatic shift following years of decline, with numbers only likely to climb amidst the government’s brutal response to protests in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

Five further death sentences were handed out to protesters yesterday, for killing a member of the security forces, bringing to 11 the total number arising from the protests.

Meanwhile nine people have been charged over the killing of Iran’s nuclear weapons chief, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November 2020. Israel’s security agency, Mossad, has been blamed for Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Newly elected president and former prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, played a central role in the 1980s killing spree that resulted in the execution of thousands of opposition supporters.

His election last year, combined with the surging number of death sentences, are considered reflective of the increasing dominance of hardliners over Iranian politics.


New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission
Updated 07 December 2022

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission
  • Initial launch date was delayed several times to allow for additional pre-flight checks

DUBAI: The UAE’s moon rover is set to blast off “no earlier than Dec. 11” after a series of tests were conducted on the SpaceX rocket.

In a statement, ispace inc., the Japanese firm that built HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander carrying the UAE’s Rashid rover, said the initial launch date was delayed several times to allow for additional pre-flight checks on the rocket.

The Emirati-made Rashid rover will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, at 7:38 a.m. GMT on Dec. 11, embarking on a five-month journey to the moon in the Arab world’s first lunar mission.

 

 

“ispace’s Mission 1 lunar lander was integrated into the SpaceX Falcon 9 fairing and battery charging operations for the lander will continue,” said the firm.

“No issues with the lander itself have been identified. As of today, no major operational changes are planned, with lunar landing scheduled for the end of April 2023.”

If the rover lands successfully, the UAE will be the fourth country to reach the moon.