Lebanese Parliament ratifies waste plan despite environmental outcry

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Speaker Nabih Berri had pushed for the session despite a Cabinet still not being formed since the conclusion of the country’s parliamentary elections on May 6.

BEIRUT: After more than seven months on the sidelines, Parliament kicked off Monday the first of a two-day legislative session headed by Speaker Nabih Berri before ratifying the controversial solid waste management plan.

Berri had pushed for the session despite a Cabinet still not being formed since the conclusion of the country’s parliamentary elections on May 6.

The Speaker based his argument on Article 69 of the constitution, which states that if “the Council [Cabinet] resigns or is considered resigned, the Chamber of Deputies [Parliament] shall automatically be considered convened in extraordinary session until a new Council [Cabinet] has been formed and has gained the Chamber’s [Parliament] confidence.”

Following another intervention from Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel, Berri once again maintained that “it’s our to proceed based on Article 69.”

 

A number of constitutional experts argued, however, that prior to the formation of a Cabinet, Parliament can only convene to debate the Cabinet’s policy statement, decide whether to grant the Cabinet the vote of confidence and tackle urgent state affairs.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was also present, as the newly elected Parliament tackled an agenda of 29 draft laws and proposals, including the highly controversial waste management decree which environmentalists have blasted.

Members of the waste management coalition and other activists have argued that it fails to guarantee the protection of public health and the environment given its lack of transparency, would initiate the creation of three incinerators, and fails to take into account the strategic environmental impact of these projects.

The incinerators proposed are expected to be set up in Beirut, Tripoli, and Zahrani.

MP Paula Yacoubian joined a bevy of protestors in front on Parliament early on Monday in a bid to change the outcome of the vote.

Incineration was prophesized as the ultimate solution to the country’s tug and pull with its own waste, despite harsh concerns from health and environmental authorities, and residents.

Although high-temperature incineration of industrial and household waste to generate electricity is common in Scandinavia and Germany – yet becoming increasingly phased out across Europe – it simply isn’t the right fit for Lebanon for a number of reasons, experts say.

The law is seen as a prerequisite for authorities to receive a portion of the CEDRE IV donor conference loans.

Meanwhile, Gemayel lambasted the failure to create a Cabinet, calling it a “crime.”

Hariri, who’s been tasked with forming an all-inclusive Cabinet comprising of the country’s different political factions, has faced several hurdles in the process, mainly in respect to the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement’s demands.

 

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