Diab in Qatar, judicial spat hits streets, capital control law report promised: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

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lorientlejour.com-Lebanese caretaker Premier Hassan Diab is received by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan al-Muraikhi at the airport in Doha. (AFP/Qatar News Agency)

While in Qatar on his first official foreign visit since taking office in January 2020, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Lebanon “has reached the brink of total collapse” and is knocking on the doors of “sister Arab countries” for help. Diab met with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who said in a statement that they had “discussed bilateral Qatari-Lebanese relations and the latest developments in the region.” Diab also met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and with the Qatari ministers of defense affairs; finance, endowments and Islamic affairs; health; and energy. On Monday evening, he attended an iftar dinner at the home of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz Al Thani. Although Diab resigned in August in the wake of the Beirut port explosion, he remains stuck in office as caretaker premier amid an ongoing standoff between President Michael Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri over government formation.

A politicized feud between two judges continued on Monday, with scuffles breaking out as their respective supporters gathered near Beirut’s Justice Palace. The army intervened to separate the groups and diffuse tensions. Since Public Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat moved to dismiss Judge Ghada Aoun last week from cases related to “important financial crimes” and Aoun refused to comply, public reactions to the dispute have fallen along political lines. Aoun is perceived as close to President Michel Aoun, and Oueidat is seen as aligned with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. The Supreme Judicial Council, which convened on Monday to discuss the matter, will meet with Ghada Aoun about the issue today at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, Oueidat asked Financial Prosecutor Ali Ibrahim to follow up on alleged violations by the Mecattaf Holding Group, a wholesale money exchanger, whose Awkar office Aoun had raided over the weekend — after her dismissal — as part of a financial crimes investigation.

The caretaker health minister launched a campaign to inoculate public sector workers with the Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. Hamad Hassan set the vaccination program in motion on Monday at the Lebanese University Health Center in Hadath. China donated 90,000 doses of the vaccine to Lebanon, 50,000 of which went to the Lebanese Army, while the remaining shots will be given to public servants and media workers. The Health Ministry’s most recent figures, reported on Saturday, show that about 5 percent of the adult population has so far received a first dose of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines.

Parliamentary finance committee chair Ibrahim Kanaan promised that he will submit a report this week on long-awaited capital control legislation. Responding to criticisms that he has not moved quickly enough to put forward a unified law to replace the current regime of ad hoc banking restrictions on withdrawals and transfers abroad, the Free Patriotic Movement MP said lawmakers have been “holding sessions far from the media” on the issue. He said that even if they do not reach an agreement, “I will submit my report this week so that the entire Parliament, as soon as possible, bears the responsibility for its approval in order to reach a formula that guarantees the depositor his right.”

Parliament’s administration and justice committee will discuss a study of legal methods for amending the demarcation of the maritime border, among other matters, in a meeting today at 11 a.m. The education, higher education and culture committee is also set to meet on Tuesday, as are subcommittees that will discuss draft laws aimed at reorganizing the nursing profession and regulating the judiciary.

 

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