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Morning Brief

Diaspora voter deadline, public employee pay hike, Mikati and bank lobby seek to make a deal: All you need to know

Diaspora voter deadline, public employee pay hike, Mikati and bank lobby seek to make a deal: All you need to know

Voters attend a Lebanese polling station in Abidjan on April 29, 2018. (Credit: Issouf Sanogo/AFP)

Saturday is the deadline for Lebanese citizens living outside Lebanon to register to vote in their country of residence. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Beirut time that evening, meaning it closes at 9:59 p.m. local time in London, or 1:59 p.m. local time in Los Angeles. As of the most recent data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from yesterday afternoon, 196,327 people had registered. The largest group, at 61,169, comes from Europe, followed by 49,050 from Asia and 46,487 from North America. The 2018 parliamentary elections were the first in Lebanon’s history to allow expatriates to vote from overseas. Less than half as many people, 82,965, registered back then. If you are an expatriate wishing to register, you may do so at your local consulate, or by clicking this link. Meanwhile, political parties have kicked into gear to reach the diaspora voters, while some have raised concerns about the handling of would-be voters’ data.

Public employees will receive an increase in the daily transportation allowance from LL24,000 to LL64,000 as well as two bonuses equivalent to half a month’s wages in November and December. The boost to public sector salaries, which have been decimated by the collapse in value of the Lebanese lira, was announced by Prime Minister Najib Mikati yesterday. It follows by mere hours a call by Labor Minister Mustafa Bayram to increase public sector transportation allowances to LL65,000. The allowance was most recently raised from LL8,000 to LL24,000 on Sept. 1, but it did not apply to all public sector workers. The head of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers issued a call for a LL100,000 allowance late last month.

Kuwait has placed 18 people in pretrial detention on charges that they helped finance Lebanon’s Hezbollah, according to Kuwaiti media. The nationality of those arrested yesterday was not confirmed. Earlier this month, Kuwaiti authorities arrested eight Kuwaiti citizens on grounds of “transferring enormous sums” of money to Hezbollah. Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi told Kuwaiti media last week that he was not aware of information related to the alleged cell, but assured that the Internal Security Forces takes seriously any information provided by foreign authorities, “especially from the Gulf states.” The move comes on the heels of an amnesty granted by the Kuwaiti government to several Kuwaiti citizens who were previously convicted of spying for Hezbollah in a court process that Amnesty International called possibly unfair. Meanwhile the Kuwaiti authorities will reportedly block 100 foreign residents from renewing their residency, most of them Lebanese.

Lebanon’s commercial banks are willing to start making loans again if Parliament passes a law guaranteeing that loans be repaid in the same currency as they were issued. The promise was made by the head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Salim Sfeir, during a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, wherein the two sides exchanged reassurances that they would cooperate, which was never much in doubt. Mikati promised the bankers that the government will craft its rescue plan in cooperation with the banks, saying the state “knows the importance of protecting the banking sector to protect the depositors’ money and to fund the economy.” In two years, Parliament has been unable to pass a capital control law that would formalize regulations on withdrawals and transfers, leaving Lebanon’s commercial banks free to invent ad hoc policies restricting depositors’ access to their savings.

Monday is Independence Day. The Lebanese Army will hold a military parade near the Defense Ministry in Yarze. Civil society groups will stage an alternative parade, as they have in past years, at 2:30 p.m. 


Saturday is the deadline for Lebanese citizens living outside Lebanon to register to vote in their country of residence. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Beirut time that evening, meaning it closes at 9:59 p.m. local time in London, or 1:59 p.m. local time in Los Angeles. As of the most recent data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from yesterday afternoon, 196,327 people had registered....