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Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati is expected to schedule a cabinet meeting to discuss the approval of a multi-million line of credit to finance fuel for Electricité du Liban. The ships carrying the needed fuel are currently anchored off the coast of Lebanon and each day of delay costs the state $18,000 per ship. Forces of Change MP and former Beirut Bar Association president Melhem Khalaf claimed that “fuel has been off the shore for weeks,” criticizing those hindering the shipments. Electricity outages marked the start of 2023 in Lebanon amid a fuel scarcity that forced a shutdown of the state’s two main power plants, Zahrani (South Lebanon) and Deir Ammar (North Lebanon). Free Patriotic Movement-affiliated ministers boycotted a cabinet session in December intended to finance state purchases, claiming a caretaker cabinet should not be convened during a presidential vacancy. Lebanon has been without a president since the end of Michel Aoun’s term on Oct. 31.
Public school teachers protested across Lebanon yesterday to demand wage increases, in a strike that began Monday and is set to last until Sunday. Teachers demanded an "adjustment of salaries as in the rest of the sectors." According to Hussein Jawad, president of the League of Public School Teachers, only 25 percent of public school teachers observed the strike on Monday. Lebanon began the school year last October amid severe personnel and material shortages as teachers’ salaries continued to falter amid the lira’s devaluation. The depreciation of salaries amid the ongoing economic crisis led to a series of monthslong open-ended strikes by public sector employees across different state institutions — resolved in some cases after workers were granted financial adjustments.
The Lebanese Foreign Ministry honored six people of Lebanese origin residing in the United States to salute their works in the fields of science, health, economy and astronomy. Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib praised the “Lebanese innovative energy,” awarding medals to Emmy Award-winning actor Tony Shalhoub, former International Monetary Fund director Saleh Nsouli, nephrologist Amin Barakat (who identified the Barakat syndrome), astronomer George Helou, bioengineer Anthony Atallah and Nobel Prize-winning chemist James Elias Corey.
Internal Security Forces arrested a man who allegedly vandalized a church in Jbeil. The suspect damaged religious icons, removed furniture from inside the church and slept on its seats, but didn’t touch the collection box. ISF said “no political or religious background” incited the vandalism. A number of political and religious figures called for the protection of worship places’ sanctity. In early January, the ISF announced the arrest of a person suspected of stealing donations from the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in the village of Houch Hala in the Bekaa Valley.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Presidential election: (Nearly all) stakeholders are reconsidering their positions”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz