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Morning Brief

Generator fees double, EU sanctions, Berri’s port probe assurances: Everything you need to know today

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, July 13

Generator fees double, EU sanctions, Berri’s port probe assurances: Everything you need to know today

Beirut stands in darkness during power outage. (Credit: Dylan Collins/AFP)

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Generator subscription prices are set to double this month as fuel costs rise. A monthly 5-ampere subscription — enough to power only simple electrical items like lights and fans — will now cost LL1 million, Abdo Saade, who heads the private generator owners’ syndicate, announced yesterday. In other words, the cost of a basic private generator subscription is now one and a half times the minimum wage of LL675,000. With state power cuts leaving much of the country in darkness for hours on end, demonstrations have become a daily occurrence. On Monday, shop owners in Saida selling ice cream and dairy products burned tires in the central Martyrs’ Square and in the southern part of the city to protest shortages of diesel fuel needed for the generators.

EU member states have reached a consensus on adopting a sanctions regime targeting corrupt Lebanese officials, the French foreign minister said. The sanctions are set to be announced this month, before the first anniversary of the Aug. 4 port explosion, Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters after a meeting with his EU counterparts. Last month, the EU’s foreign policy head had threatened sanctions to pressure officials to form a government and lift Lebanon out of its “self-imposed crisis”; two months before that, France had imposed entry restrictions on officials accused of political obstructions, without naming them. The announcement that the EU is ready to up the ante against the political class came ahead of a visit by Patrick Durel, the French president’s adviser on the Middle East and North Africa, who will arrive in Lebanon today for meetings with officials, one day after the French, US and Saudi ambassadors convened to discuss the country’s worsening economic situation.

Nabih Berri assured that individuals implicated in the Beirut port explosion will not receive protection from prosecution, regardless of their station. During his annual speech to commemorate the start of the 2006 war with Israel, the Parliament speaker, who is heading a group of MPs in studying a request from Judge Tarket Bitar to lift immunity from three sitting parliamentarians, said there will be “no immunity for anyone found to be involved in the explosions at the port of Beirut.” Almost a year after the blast, no top-level officials have been held accountable for the explosion, which killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands more and displaced hundreds of thousands of others. While observers saw Bitar’s recent request to lift immunity from Nouhad Machnouk, Ghazi Zeaiter and Ali Hassan Khalil as a positive step that may pave the way for him to file charges against them, it now risks being at a standstill. Bitar has refused a request to provide evidence to justify summoning the three MPs, who are also former ministers, claiming that he has already specified his reasons and that providing further information could compromise his investigation, Al-Jadeed reports.

The Saudi ambassador met with Lebanese officials about the kingdom’s ban on produce imports from the country. Waleed Bukhari met with the Lebanese Economic Organizations, headed by former Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair, to reevaluate the measures taken by officials to prevent drug smuggling into Saudi Arabia and draft an action plan. Bukhari then met with the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, whom he reportedly told that to reverse the ban, Lebanon must adhere to three “axes”: “strict judicial procedures, clear political will and reliable security measures.” Saudi Arabia has banned Lebanese produce imports since April after reportedly intercepting a shipment of pomegranates stuffed with 5.3 million amphetamine pills.


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Generator subscription prices are set to double this month as fuel costs rise. A monthly 5-ampere subscription — enough to power only simple electrical items like lights and fans — will now cost LL1 million, Abdo Saade, who heads the private generator owners’ syndicate, announced yesterday. In other words, the cost of a basic...