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Security forces fired teargas near the Grand Serail in an attempt to disperse hundreds of protesters contesting yesterday’s joint parliamentary committee meeting. One protester and one policeman were injured, AFP reported, during the protest where a retired soldier, speaking L'Orient Today, decried being “prevented from getting health care, gasoline and other rights.” Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab relayed that the meeting — which joined Finance and Budget, Administration and Justice, Health, Labor and Social Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Public Works committees — was “successful” according to “most of the MPs” present. “So far, it is not clear who is responsible for the exchange rate fluctuation,” Bou Saab added, a day after a central bank intervention for the local currency, which reached a record low on the parallel market Tuesday. The deputy parliament speaker said banks will not go “unpunished” after revealing that “politicians, but also judges and officers” unimpededly transferred money abroad while most depositors face severely restricted access to their foreign currency funds since the onset of the crisis in 2019.
The head of the fuel importers’ union called on the Energy Ministry to issue hourly updates to its fuel price lists to keep up with parallel market exchange rate fluctuations. Maroun Chammas suggested implementing two types of gas pumps in the stations — one priced in dollars and another in Lebanese lira at the market rate — as an alternative if hourly price updates are not implemented. Fluctuations in the parallel market exchange rate briefly sent gasoline prices under the LL2 million mark yesterday as the lira recovered from its Tuesday record low. Yesterday, however, losses on the parallel market caused fuel prices to rise over LL2 million again. On Tuesday, when the lira fell to an all-time low on the parallel market, two sources in the sector told L'Orient Today that gas station owners intend to supersede Energy Ministry prices and charge customers either in dollars or the equivalent at the most recent parallel market rate.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian yesterday chastised officials in a speech marking the start of Ramadan today. Derian called for a quick end to the country’s executive vacuum, warning that “chaos” will spread and citizens will bear the cost, while they already suffer from “hunger, poverty and the high cost of hospitalization.” Both Derian and Shiite cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah confirmed that today marks the start of Ramadan — during which Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. The Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) on Tuesday evening announced another suspension to a recently resumed open-ended strike “on the occasion of the beginning of the month of Ramadan and to facilitate the operations of citizens.” General Security announced yesterday that it will not receive biometric passport requests on Fridays during Ramadan.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed that the election of Lebanon’s next president is “internal par excellence,” tempering optimism that the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran would help fill the presidential vacancy. “The word 'Lebanon' was not even mentioned in the Iranian-Saudi agreement,” Nasrallah continued in a televised speech, nonetheless expressing hopes that the agreement would “help achieve the [presidential] deadline in Lebanon.” Nasrallah said “things are moving slowly” with regards to filling the presidential vacancy — a criticism made by international actors, who are reportedly considering sanctioning Lebanese officials deemed responsible for delaying the election of a president, sources involved in the negotiations told L’Orient Today. Legislators have yet to reach a consensus after 11 attempts to elect a president since the start of the election period two months before the country entered a presidential vacuum on Nov. 1.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “An unstable gaze from the edge of loss”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Security forces fired teargas near the Grand Serail in an attempt to disperse hundreds of protesters contesting yesterday’s joint parliamentary committee meeting. One protester and one policeman were injured, AFP reported, during the protest where a retired soldier, speaking L'Orient Today, decried being “prevented from getting...