Military court Judge Fadi Akiki, who has charged 68 people in connection with the Oct. 14 Tayyouneh clashes, yesterday became the latest target of a removal request. Lawyers for some of those held in detention over their alleged involvement in the incident, which killed seven people and wounded more than 30 others, filed a request at the Beirut Appeals Court that would oust Akiki from the case. Meanwhile, lawyers for Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea have submitted a brief to Akiki claiming that a summons he issued for the politician was illegal. Geagea’s hearing with army intelligence is scheduled for 9 a.m. today. It is unclear whether he will attend. Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt, Future Movement leader Saad Hariri and Kataeb Party leader Sami Gemayel yesterday all criticized Akiki’s summoning of Geagea.
The joint parliamentary committees voted to maintain their recommendation to move the upcoming elections up to March 27, despite President Michel Aoun’s objections. The proposal will be put to full Parliament for a second vote on Thursday. The MPs had approved changing the date from May 8 to March 27 last week, but Aoun refused to sign off and instead sent the issue back to the legislature for reconsideration. Aoun says thousands of people who will reach the voting age of 21 during the six-week interval between the dates would be deprived of their right to vote if early elections were held. The March date was ostensibly proposed by political blocs to avoid campaigning during Ramadan, but many analysts have suggested that political calculations motivated the decision.
A series of marches in and around Beirut that were scheduled to take place today as part of a planned general strike against skyrocketing fuel prices were called off last night following a meeting between transport union leaders and ministers. Following the meeting, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said the unions agreed to give the government a month to make good on a number of promises related to support for the sector. These include a law exempting public transit operators from the yearly mechanic fee for their vehicles. Land transport union head Bassam Tleis said the government had agreed to launch transport subsidies on Dec. 1 and crack down on new public transit operators working outside the previously established framework, such as buses operated by municipalities.
Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai made an unusual trio of visits to Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss the Beirut port blast investigation’s future and the prospects for cabinet to resume meetings. Cabinet meetings have been suspended since Oct. 12 over deep disagreements related to the port investigation, with Hezbollah and the Amal Movement pushing for investigating Judge Tarek Bitar’s removal from the case. Following the meetings, Rai said a “political” solution had been proposed, without providing details. Local media cited unnamed sources as saying that Rai and the three political leaders have agreed to refer MPs and ministers to the Supreme Council — a judicial body tasked with trying presidents and ministers — effectively removing them from Bitar’s jurisdiction while allowing him to continue his work as it pertains to other persons of interest who are not ministers or MPs. Bitar has continued his pursuit of hearings with three MPs even after Parliament entered its regular session because, according to the legislature’s bylaws, proceedings begun against MPs outside a session may continue without the legislature’s authorization once a session starts.
Military court Judge Fadi Akiki, who has charged 68 people in connection with the Oct. 14 Tayyouneh clashes, yesterday became the latest target of a removal request. Lawyers for some of those held in detention over their alleged involvement in the incident, which killed seven people and wounded more than 30 others, filed a request at the Beirut Appeals Court that would oust Akiki from the case....