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Lebanese army intelligence yesterday summoned Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to give testimony on the Tayyouneh clashes. The summons to appear Wednesday morning comes in response to Geagea’s alleged connection to the deadly Oct. 14 fighting, which Hezbollah and Amal accused Lebanese Forces-affiliated gunmen of starting. The Lebanese Forces have denied this. Geagea has previously said he would only appear for questioning if Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave testimony first. The latter has not been summoned. Meanwhile, Akiki launched proceedings against 68 people on Monday, including 18 who are currently detained, for their alleged involvement in the clashes. The 18 detainees were brought before military investigative judge Fadi Sawwan, who was Judge Tarek Bitar’s predecessor in the Beirut port blast investigation prior to his removal in February of this year following legal challenges from politicians charged in the case. Last Thursday, Geagea told local television that supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, in addition to members of the LF, were among the detainees.
The Higher Judicial Council met with the judge investigating the Aug. 4, 2020 port explosion. In a statement Monday, the oversight body said it had heard updates from Tarek Bitar on the status of the investigation and asked him to “finish the investigation as fast as possible” within the limits of the law. Meanwhile, multiple legal sources told L’Orient Today that yet another legal challenge to Bitar’s investigation initiated by a politician called in for questioning was defeated yesterday, with the Court of Cassation throwing out a complaint by former minister Yousef Fenianos.
The Lebanese and Iraqi governments expect to finalize an agreement to increase the quantity of Iraqi fuel purchased by Lebanon, following a high-level meeting in Baghdad. Prime Minister Najib Mikati was in Baghdad yesterday alongside General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim and Lebanon’s ambassador to Iraq Ali al-Habhab for meetings with senior Iraqi officials. According to a statement from the Grand Serail, the parties agreed that Energy Minister Walid Fayad would visit Baghdad next week to finalize an agreement to increase the quantity of Iraqi oil derivatives purchased by Lebanon by an unspecified amount. Lebanon has been receiving fuel supplies as part of a complex deal to trade 1 million tons of high sulfur Iraqi fuel — which cannot be used by Lebanon’s power plants and must be swapped for alternative fuel — for unspecified goods and services from Lebanon over a one-year period.
A group of retired soldiers held a sit-in outside Banque du Liban’s branch in Baalbeck in protest of the devaluation of their pensions. Last week the veterans called for open-ended countrywide protests. Public sector pensions, which are denominated in lira, have lost more than 90 percent of their value against the dollar, which heavily impacts the price of most goods in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the National Confederation of Trade Unions and Employees issued a call for the minimum wage to be raised from LL675,000 to “no less than LL12,000,000” along with quarterly cost of living adjustments. At the current parallel market rate such a wage would equal roughly $590 per month.
Parliament speaker Nabih Berri has called for a parliamentary session to be held Thursday to discuss proposed laws. Among the laws expected to be on the agenda is the electoral law that will govern the upcoming parliamentary elections. On Friday, President Michel Aoun sent back to Parliament for reconsideration a law that had moved forward the date of elections from May 8 to March 27. A combined gathering of several committees will convene today to study the text and the president’s objections, before a new vote on Thursday, where a decision will be made by an absolute majority of half the deputies plus one.