Lebanon faces ‘catastrophic consequences’ as political deadlock continues

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Steve Sweeney-https://morningstaronline.co.uk-A protester blocks a main road with burning tyres in downtown Beirut, June 3, 2021

LEBANON faces “catastrophic consequences” if parliament speaker Nabih Berri’s efforts to end the government crisis are derailed, the Amal Movement warned today.

Mr Berri, who also leads the Shi’ite party, pledged to push forward with his proposals, which would see the formation of a 24-member government of non-partisan specialists without any side holding a power of veto.

“There is no other choice and therefore I am upholding it,” he said, of his proposal, which is set to be presented to President Michel Aoun.

Mr Berri’s announcement came as Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri postponed his planned resignation to give Mr Berri’s efforts to break the deadlock a chance of success.

Lebanon has been without a functioning government since the entire cabinet resigned following the explosion in Beirut’s port last August, caused by the ignition of 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that were stored there.

Investigations have hit a stumbling block, with many, including former prime minister Hassan Diab — who has been charged in relation to the blast — refusing to give evidence.

There appears to be a widespread belief that the port was attacked by Israel, but claims that Hezbollah had munitions stored at the port have been dismissed as unlikely, given that the various Lebanese political factions operate there.

Meanwhile, the country’s economic crisis continues to deepen, with the Lebanese pound losing some 90 per cent of its value over the last 18 months.

A hotel worker in Beirut’s Hamra district told the Morning Star that she has never known the situation to be so desperate.

“We have no electricity for days, we have run out of medicine for my parents, babies are without milk, hospitals are closing. Tomorrow, they say we will run out of bread. What can we do?

“The government are thieves. They are stealing from the people. We have nothing left, but they will steal our breath.”

 

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