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Progress on public schools reopening, RHUH strike escalates, second cabinet meeting: What to know today

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, Oct. 6 

Progress on public schools reopening, RHUH strike escalates, second cabinet meeting: What to know today

A day after a court ruling led to the resumption of the Beirut blast probe, Judge Tarek Bitar summoned three MPs for questioning. (Credit: Marc Fayad)

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Hope rose yesterday that public schools would reopen as early as next week after Parliament’s Education Committee reportedly said it had drafted a strategic plan for the coming school year. Following a session yesterday, the committee’s head, MP Bahia Hariri (Future/Saida), reportedly said the plan would target challenges, such as a possible “teachers’ strike, transportation allowances [for teachers], educational staff’s insurance, issues facing contract teachers and challenges facing the Lebanese University,” without providing concrete details. The public school year was originally supposed to begin on Sept. 27, but Education Minister Abbas Halabi announced its postponement at the last minute, saying the delay would enable the ministry to engage with teachers angered over their salaries’ deteriorating worth. Meanwhile, Education Minister Abbas Halabi said in a statement that United Nations organizations and the World Bank have dedicated $70 million to help fund teachers’ salaries and schools’ operating costs, and support in covering the cost of students’ books and stationery.

A US-spearheaded initiative to supply Lebanon with Egyptian fuel via the Arab Gas Pipeline could be finalized “within the few coming weeks,” Egypt’s energy minister said yesterday. Following a meeting with the Egyptian official, Tarek El Molla, yesterday in Cairo, Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayad said Egypt had broached the possibility of providing extra quantities of gas, though this is not finalized, while Molla said the two officials had agreed on a framework for the gas provision. The plan, once implemented, is expected to help alleviate the fuel shortages that have paralyzed almost every sector in Lebanon in recent months.

Three MPs who tried to have Judge Tarek Bitar removed from the 2020 Beirut port blast probe have reportedly been summoned for questioning next week. MP Ali Hassan Khalil is scheduled to be interrogated on Oct. 12, while MPs Nohad Machnouk and Ghazi Zeaiter have been summoned to appear before Bitar on Oct. 13. The three are also former government ministers. Former Premier Hassan Diab, who was outside the country last month during his scheduled interrogation, supposedly for a preplanned family trip, is set to be questioned on Oct. 28. The dates were scheduled a day after complaints filed by Khalil, Machnouk and Zeaiter were tossed out by the Beirut Appeals Court for lack of jurisdiction and the MPs were fined.

Rafik Hariri University Hospital employees announced yesterday that the facility’s emergency rooms and COVID-19 vaccination center will close as part of the latest escalation of their strike. The most recent negotiations with the administration ended in an impasse, reported a statement from striking staff, who are demanding a three-month salary advance, 30 percent of their salary to be paid in “fresh” US dollars and payment for overtime they’ve worked. Nurses and other staff at RHUH — Lebanon’s leading public hospital in combating COVID-19 — have been striking since Monday over their salaries’ devaluation, asserting that their compensation no longer affords them a decent quality of life amid the economic crisis.

Cabinet is scheduled to meet today at 4 p.m. to discuss a 10-item agenda. The agenda topics include a draft reconciliation contract with Alvarez & Marsal, the consulting firm contracted to carry out a long-awaited audit of Banque du Liban; a memorandum of understanding between Lebanon and Cyprus regarding cooperation in the oil and gas sector; a possible agreement with Kuwait on obtaining assistance related to Syrian refugees in Lebanon; and additional compensation for families of victims of the 2020 Beirut port explosion. 


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Hope rose yesterday that public schools would reopen as early as next week after Parliament’s Education Committee reportedly said it had drafted a strategic plan for the coming school year. Following a session yesterday, the committee’s head, MP Bahia Hariri (Future/Saida), reportedly said the plan would target challenges, such as...