BEIRUT — The Amal Movement, which is headed by Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, issued a statement on Monday from its political bureau calling for the challenges that Lebanon is going through to be prioritized by officials and their parties over their ongoing "resentment" of one another.
"The difficulties the Lebanese citizen is facing, especially regarding the electricity crisis, transcend political resentment and the quarrels that some parties are trying to foment are not in the interest of citizens," the statement reads.
This declaration from Berri's party comes as a political tug-of-war opposes caretaker Minister of Energy and Water Walid Fayad on the one hand and caretaker Finance Minister Youssef Khalil, affiliated to Amal, along with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the other, regarding the opening of a $62 million line of credit by BDL to purchase fuel to increase electricity production.
Meanwhile, the funds have not been used yet to pay for the shipments, even though two ships were sent by the company that won the procurement tender in December.
Although they have arrived off Lebanon's coast, these ships have not unloaded their cargo yet. Meanwhile, due to the depletion of fuel, Electricité du Liban announced last week that it has been forced to shut down its two largest power plants, Zahrani (South Lebanon) and Deir Ammar (North Lebanon).
In addition to the electricity shortage, and as the vessels are still anchored off the coast, each day of payment delay costs the state $18,000 per boat.
The tensions opposing Fayad to Mikati and Khalil are part of a broader political context pitting the camp of former President Michel Aoun against various opponents, including Berri.
The Amal statement also discussed “the political, economic and social conditions” of the country, noting that the election of a new president remains the party's main objective at present.
A 10th parliamentary session devoted to electing Lebanon's next president was adjourned in December, less than an hour after it began, without reaching a result. No new sessions have been officially scheduled by Berri, though a source at Parliament confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour that one would officially be convened this week.
The statement said that there must be an “agreement on a president who unites, doesn’t divide and does not bow down to external pressure.”
The statement also noted that the caretaker government has “full responsibility to handle the files that are most pressing and should remain at the service of those that are most economically and socially vulnerable.”
Mikati's caretaker cabinet met in December at the Grand Serail to address an agenda focused on social and medical aid amid Lebanon's ongoing economic crisis despite the meeting being boycotted by several ministers close to the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM).
Lebanon entered a duel executive power vacuum, for the first time in its history, when President Michel Aoun's term ended on Oct. 31.