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Prime Minister Najib Mikati added his signature to the decree setting the date of elections as May 15 — only President Michel Aoun’s signature is now needed to confirm the polling date. During a press conference yesterday, Mikati said he and Aoun agree on the May 15 date and he expects the president to sign the decree, ending months of back and forth over the date of elections. Mikati also expressed his hope that the cabinet will convene in the new year. It has not met since Oct. 12 because the premier fears that Hezbollah and Amal ministers would boycott any session. Aoun has called for Mikati to schedule the meeting anyway. At issue is Judge Tarek Bitar’s leadership of the investigation into the 2020 Beirut port blast. Mikati said yesterday that Bitar is “violating the constitution” by prosecuting ministers and MPs, but that the matter is “for the judiciary to fix.” Hezbollah has called for Bitar’s removal from the investigation, and several other parties have called for Bitar to be blocked from pursuing ministers and deputies while continuing to prosecute lower-level officials.
Lebanon’s top military and security officials met with Aoun yesterday and called on him to improve living conditions for their officers and for the country in general. General Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese Army, repeated his often-issued warnings that the economic crisis is having harmful effects on the military. Soldiers’ salaries have been devastated by the lira’s loss of over 90 percent of its value and the army has become at least partially reliant on foreign aid to feed its soldiers. Over the summer, it stopped providing meat due to skyrocketing food prices. Internal Security Forces head Imad Osman recommended that Aoun increase the salaries of members of military institutions. General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, often seen as a mediator between rival factions of the political establishment, addressed the president saying, “all Lebanese in favor of reforms are waiting for initiatives that can put this process on track.”
Internet connections will slow down starting Jan. 1, as the government ends the exceptional increase in speed and consumption volume implemented in March 2020. In a statement, the Telecommunications Ministry said that in the absence of cabinet meetings, previous measures that had doubled connection speeds and consumption ceilings for subscribers to the public internet company, Ogero, will expire. The government had instituted the temporary increase in speed and volume at the start of the country’s first lockdown to halt the spread of COVID-19, in order to help users attend school or work remotely. As the pandemic has continued, the move was repeatedly extended but will now expire because the cabinet, which has not convened since Oct. 12 for political reasons, is unwilling to meet to continue the extension or conduct other urgent business.
An explosion occurred yesterday on the Lebanese-Syrian border, the cause of which is not yet clear. Hezbollah-affiliated media channel Al-Manar reported that the explosion was the detonation of old ammunition, without specifying the ownership of the ammunition or the reason for the detonation. The NNA also reported that the explosion involved old ammunition without further detailing the circumstances. Two sources interviewed by our correspondent in the Bekaa reported that the ammunition belonged to Hezbollah, while another source said that the blast took place at one of the party’s training centers. There have been no reports of casualties.
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Prime Minister Najib Mikati added his signature to the decree setting the date of elections as May 15 — only President Michel Aoun’s signature is now needed to confirm the polling date. During a press conference yesterday, Mikati said he and Aoun agree on the May 15 date and he expects the president to sign the decree, ending...