Search
Search

Morning brief

Everything you need to know to start your Thursday


Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Photo Marc Fayad

BEIRUT — Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, Oct. 15.

Saad Hariri’s hopes to return as prime minister were dashed, or at least delayed, when President Michel Aoun postponed parliamentary consultations set for today. The three-time premier had dispatched a team headed by his aunt, MP Bahia Hariri, to sway a number of political blocs to his side. Her meeting yesterday with representatives of the Free Patriotic Movement, the party founded by Aoun, clearly did not have the intended effect. The president’s office later announced the consultations to name a new prime minister would be held Oct. 22 instead. Despite the multiple disasters afflicting Lebanon, politicians have proved incapable of forming a government since Hassan Diab resigned more than two months ago.

A number of Lebanese banks informed customers of new, lower withdrawal limits on lira accounts. Banque du Liban Gov. Riad Salameh said that he had not set withdrawal limits on depositors, but rather on banks, which now have new restrictions on how much cash they can withdraw from the central bank. The new measure, analysts say, aims to limit the amount of lira in circulation. The Beirut Traders Association called for an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the new withdrawal restrictions and their “potentially devastating repercussions on household consumption.”

Five medical syndicates will hold a joint news conference today to address another recent move by the central bank to limit lira in circulation. The new rules require importers of medical supplies to provide lira, in cash, to make use of BDL’s facility to buy dollars at the subsidized exchange rate of LL1,507.5. Medical importers have been able to get 85 percent of the dollars they need to bring goods from abroad at this rate since September of last year. On Monday, the syndicate of medical equipment importers announced that they would go on strike in protest at the latest BDL circular and stop supplying hospitals and medical centers, except in emergencies.

Coronavirus claimed the lives of at least 20 people, a new record, bringing the death toll to 499. 1,377 new cases were also recorded, raising the number of active cases to 31,583. The pandemic has pushed the country’s dysfunctional health care system to the brink. Hospitals remain dangerously close to capacity, with ICUs around 70 percent occupied. If — or when — capacity is reached, the death toll is expected to soar.

Hundreds of workers went on strike in locations across the country yesterday, briefly blocking roads in Beirut, Tripoli, Saida, Sur and Chtoura. Protesters decried worsening living conditions and the potential end to subsidies for vital goods. The action had been supported by the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers and its head Bechara al-Asmar, who called for a “mass trial” for those responsible for Lebanon’s economic crisis. The GCLW has long stood accused of being a puppet of political interests.

Lebanese and Israeli delegations met for the first round of talks to demarcate a maritime border. The controversial talks aim to decide who owns around 856 square kilometers of disputed — but potentially gas-rich — waters off the coast of southern Lebanon and northern Palestine. Yesterday’s meeting lasted less than an hour; negotiators will get another chance when the next round is held in two weeks’ time. Once again, representatives of Palestine will not be invited.


BEIRUT — Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, Oct. 15.

Saad Hariri’s hopes to return as prime minister were dashed, or at least delayed, when President Michel Aoun postponed parliamentary consultations set for today. The three-time premier had dispatched a team headed by his aunt, MP Bahia Hariri, to sway a number of political blocs to his...