Search
Search

Morning brief

Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Melhem Khalaf speaks at the Justice Palace on Monday. (Marc Fayad)

The head of the Beirut Bar Association unveiled a “national rescue initiative” backed by professional syndicates, educators and religious figures, among others. In a speech at the Justice Palace, Melhem Khalaf called for people to joint the initiative, which seeks a “purposeful government of independent specialists,” an economic rescue plan, “full justice” for the Beirut port explosion victims, a forensic audit of the central bank and public institutions, and an electoral law free from sectarian constraints. The initiative comes amid political impasse between the country’s ruling class, who have failed to form a new government or pursue meaningful reforms since Hassan Diab’s cabinet resigned a week after the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion.

Tensions erupted in the northern town of Bsharri yesterday evening after a local man was shot dead on the road leading to Al-Arz, allegedly by a Syrian national. The Lebanese Army announced it was conducting foot patrols in Bsharri — a political bastion of the Lebanese Forces — to ease the situation. Meanwhile, the state-run National News Agency reported that residents were expelling Syrians in retaliation to the shooting. The mayor of Bsharri denied the news of the expulsions. He told L’Orient Today that the municipality asked the army to deploy to keep the situation calm, adding that “for every action there is a reaction.”

Parliamentary committees will meet today to discuss pharmaceutical subsidies and modernizing public procurement. Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs Committee chair Assem Araji said his committee will meet with stakeholders, including importers and a representative of Banque du Liban, to discuss what measures to take in light of the central bank potentially cutting subsidies on medicine in the future. The MP told L’Orient Today that subsidy cuts would be a disaster. Meanwhile, Yassine Jaber will head a meeting of a special committee formed in March 2020 to continue studying a draft law for modernizing public procurement formulated by the Ministry of Finance’s Basil Fuleihan Institute. Jaber told L’Orient Today the committee is trying to finish its work by the end of the year. Public procurement in Lebanon is governed by a decades-old framework criticized for allowing corruption.

The caretaker interior and health ministers will meet today with the ministerial coronavirus committee to discuss the COVID-19 lockdown. The gathering in downtown Beirut will also include union, business and parliamentary representatives, according to the National News Agency. Mohamed Fehmi, the caretaker interior minister, has generally been against restrictive measures against COVID-19, while Hamad Hassan, the outgoing health minister, has supported broader action against the pandemic. Lebanon’s shutdown, which began Nov. 14, is set to expire on Nov. 30, unless authorities decide to extend it.

Lebanon registered 11 new COVID-19 deaths yesterday, bringing the cumulative total to 911, while there were 1,041 more infections. In its latest report, the World Health Organization said ICU capacity was at 77.5 percent, reflecting a recent boost in hospital capacity. Members of a Health Ministry committee will meet today with multinational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to discuss provision of vaccines, according to the caretaker health minister’s comments to Al-Jadeed on Sunday. Hassan said his ministry has reserved 1 million vaccines from Pfizer and will formally sign an agreement with the company once it receives approval for its vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration.


The head of the Beirut Bar Association unveiled a “national rescue initiative” backed by professional syndicates, educators and religious figures, among others. In a speech at the Justice Palace, Melhem Khalaf called for people to joint the initiative, which seeks a “purposeful government of independent specialists,” an economic rescue plan, “full justice” for the Beirut port...