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Lebanon’s vaccination campaign against cholera outperformed expectations, caretaker Health Minister Firass Abiad said Friday. As of Friday, 190,000 people, most between the ages of five and 14, had received the vaccine, “which is greater than the number that was supposed to be reached in this phase,” Abiad explained. The Health Ministry on Oct. 12 began a three-week vaccination campaign aiming to reach 600,000 people. “It is very important to receive the vaccine even in places that are considered safe,” Abiad added, explaining a request for an additional 1.5 million doses from the World Health Organization, which along with other international donors. Since the first case of cholera in nearly 30 years emerged in northern Lebanon in early October, 20 people have died from the disease while the number of confirmed cases had reached 580 as of Saturday.
Free Patriotic Movement head Gebran Bassil teased a potential run for president Thursday, prompting criticism two days later from Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea, while Lebanon today enters its fourth week of an executive power vacuum. Bassil presented his potential candidacy as a last resort alternative to a “bad president.” Geagea, for his part, accused Bassil of exploiting the ongoing presidential vacuum to realize “his particular interests.” Michel Aoun’s term as president ended on Oct. 31. Four attempts by Parliament to name his successor ahead of the end of his term failed, as have two attempts since. A third post-vacuum electoral session, the seventh overall, is scheduled for Thursday. The FPM, Hezbollah and their allies have consistently cast blank ballots in these sessions while the LF and its allies have voted for Zgharta MP Michel Moawad. Amid a lack of consensus among MPs on the next head of state, Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai and Hezbollah official Nabil Kaouk on Sunday each expressed their criteria for the next president.
“Many companies have complained that the customs administration has collected the 3 percent duty as a precautionary measure,” Association of Lebanese Industrialists president Salim Zeeni said on Friday, criticizing a premature imposition of levies set in the 2022 budget. The budget law imposes a 3 percent tax on imported products subject to VAT except for those exempted by a yet unpublished ministerial decree. Despite promises from the customs administration to “refund the amounts claimed, if necessary, as soon as the list of exemptions is published,” Zeeni called for a cessation of collections, considering them “unacceptable.” The 3 percent tax, coupled with the planned increase in customs duties, could lead to a drastic rise in inflation, an industrialist, speaking on condition of anonymity, told L’Orient Today.
Popular protest movement-linked lawyers appeared to have declined in popularity at the Beirut Bar Association Council elections, with just one such candidate among a field of 16 running for four seats yesterday. The Bar Association's Council, formed of 12 members, holds elections annually for one-third of its seats. Beirut Bar Association members re-elected Maya Zaghrini and Saadeddine Khatib to the council while Melhem Khalaf and Pierre Hanna were replaced by Georges Yazbeck and Mayssam Younes. A substitute was also elected: Maya Chehab. The Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces, and the Progressive Socialist Party reportedly supported Khatib, Younes and Zaghrini. The National Bloc, which claims proximity to the popular protest movement, supported Yazbeck. Approximately 3,700 lawyers participated in the ballot, a lower number compared to last year when the election of a new president of the bar was also held.
In case you missed it, here's our must-read story from this weekend: “Why did Pelé visit Beirut a week before Lebanon’s Civil War erupted?”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Lebanon’s vaccination campaign against cholera outperformed expectations, caretaker Health Minister Firass Abiad said Friday. As of Friday, 190,000 people, most between the ages of five and 14, had received the vaccine, “which is greater than the number that was supposed to be reached in this phase,” Abiad explained. The Health...