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Morning brief

Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Parliament convenes for its fall term at UNESCO Palace in Beirut. (Parliament/Ali Fawwaz)

BEIRUT — Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Parliament started its fall term with the usual election of officers and committee members, which saw more changes than usual due to the resignation of eight MPs in the wake of the Beirut port explosion. Speaker Nabih Berri rattled through the names of MPs on each committee, hardly pausing for breath as he approved the modified lineups. After the largely pro-forma session had ended and most MPs had left, Berri convened a legislative session ostensibly to discuss a general amnesty law. However, the session immediately ended due to a lack of quorum. Amnesty, a long-standing demand of those charged with minor crimes, has gained renewed urgency after a coronavirus outbreak at Lebanon’s largest prison.

Lebanon’s hollowed-out health care sector was dealt another blow yesterday when importers of medical equipment announced a new billing mechanism. Anyone who buys equipment from importers, including hospitals, the Health Ministry and social security funds, will now have to gather cash lira to pay 85 percent of their bills and pay the remaining 15 percent in US dollars. The decision precisely mirrors central bank policy, which obliges medical importers to provide the same split of dollars and lira, with the latter now required in cash, in order to make use of the official exchange rate. Meanwhile, outgoing Health Minister Hamad Hassan warned yesterday that pharmaceutical warehouses only have enough stocks to last until the end of the year.

Lebanon recorded 1,392 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the number of active cases to 34,307. Five more people died, raising the death toll to 531. Newly instated French Ambassador Anne Grillo tested positive for coronavirus, along with several other officials at the French Embassy. Doctors believe she has recovered, according to a statement from the embassy, raising the possibility that she may have been carrying the virus when she presented her credentials to President Michel Aoun last Friday.

Michel Aoun is set to address the nation today at noon. While a source at the Presidential Palace could not disclose the contents of the speech, they told L’Orient Today the president would likely discuss government formation efforts as part of his address. Parliamentary consultations to name the next prime minister are scheduled for tomorrow; all odds are stacked in favor of Saad Hariri returning to the position. Despite the commitment of the two main Christian parties — Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces — to not nominate the three-time premier, Hariri has reportedly garnered the support of a majority of Parliament.


BEIRUT — Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Parliament started its fall term with the usual election of officers and committee members, which saw more changes than usual due to the resignation of eight MPs in the wake of the Beirut port explosion. Speaker Nabih Berri rattled through the names of MPs on each committee, hardly...