Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.
Commercial banks, entering the second week of their open-ended strike, faced new pressure as the lira fell to a record low of LL74,000 to the dollar on the parallel market. Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutor Ghada Aoun set hearings for today to question officials from different banks as a precursor to lifting banking secrecy on their accounts. Aoun also filed charges of money laundering against the heads of Bank Audi and Audi Group for failing to comply with a similar measure on the accounts of current and former board members, banking executives, auditors and supervisory commissioners. Former president Michel Aoun ratified an amended banking secrecy law last October, which the Association of Banks in Lebanon’s lawyer Akram Azouri contends does not have a retroactive effect allowing Aoun to access records since 2016.
Failure to elect a new president means “all ties with Lebanon will be reconsidered,” the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt told Lebanese officials on Monday, relaying resolutions from a Lebanon-centered meeting in Paris last week. The international community shifted its tone after repeated calls for a rapid end to the presidential vacuum, emphasizing the importance of International Monetary Fund-mandated reforms to unlock a multibillion-dollar aid package. A 12th parliamentary presidential election session has yet to be scheduled. Meanwhile, more than a third of MPs on Saturday announced they would boycott upcoming legislative sessions, putting the presidential election at a crucial impasse before Parliament can approve reforms — including a capital controls law — demanded by the IMF.
Hundreds of Future Movement supporters commemorated the 18th anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination in Beirut and Saida yesterday. Hariri’s son, Saad — who served as former prime minister and Future Movement leader before he withdrew from politics last year — revisited his father’s grave yesterday after he paid his respects Monday on arrival for a three-day visit, which will include “meetings with political leaders, religious dignitaries and Future Movement executives,” a source close to the Future Movement told L’Orient Today. Assassins targeted Hariri’s motorcade in 2005, detonating around 1000 kgs of TNT that killed the former prime minister and 21 other people. The United Nations extended the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the assassination until the end of this year after it convicted three members of Hezbollah, sentencing them to multiple concurrent life sentences.
“Assia Mohammad Ibrahim Chouma was found alive in Turkey and is currently in [Antakya] at the Afad center,” Secretary General of Lebanon’s Higher Relief Committee General Mohammad Kheir said Monday, announcing the rescue of the Lebanese girl from the rubble a week after the Feb. 6 earthquake that killed more than 40,000 people. At least nine Lebanese citizens died after the earthquake, while others remain missing, according to Lebanon’s ambassador to Turkey Ghassan Moallem. Several Lebanese rescue workers remain in Turkey and Syria to aid with relief efforts, while the Lebanese government last week announced it would facilitate the transport of aid to Syria..
Former Lebanese MP Mikhael al-Daher died yesterday at the age of 95, L'Orient Today's correspondent reported. Daher, a lawyer, withdrew from political life in 2005 after 33 years in Parliament occupying Akkar’s Maronite seat. He also participated in the government of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as Minister of National Education and Fine Arts in 1992 during the presidency of Elias al-Harawi.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read article from yesterday: “‘Syria has been experiencing an ongoing earthquake for 12 years’”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz