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Parliament is scheduled to convene at 11 a. m. for a 12th presidential electoral session today. Yesterday, Forces of Change MPs Paula Yacoubian (Forces of Change/Beirut I) and Najat Saliba (Forces of Change/Chouf) joined the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Party and several opposition MPs in endorsing former Finance Minister and IMF senior official Jihad Azour. Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and their allies said they will back the candidacy of Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh. Both candidates’ supporters have expressed the possibility that the session will not achieve quorum or will lose it after a first round of voting during which more votes are needed for a candidate to succeed.
The caretaker cabinet yesterday approved the appointment of two lawyers to represent Lebanon in the French investigation into alleged Banque du Liban (BDL) corruption. Cabinet backtracked its rejection of lawyers Emmanuel Daoud and Pascal Beauvais, who previously agreed to work pro bono and received the approval of caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury and the head of the State Legal Department Helene Iskandar. A senior judicial source told L’Orient Today that the appointment preserves Lebanon’s claim over assets that would be seized if BDL chief Salameh or his alleged co-conspirators are convicted. On July 4, the French judiciary is scheduled to issue a ruling on a restitution request for tens of millions of euros in assets tied to Salameh, seized on suspicions that they were acquired with stolen funds.
The British judiciary on Monday ordered defunct chemical trader Savaro Ltd. to pay over £1 million in damages after an earlier ruling found it liable for the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast. The Beirut Bar Association and relatives of the blast victims welcomed the decision, seeing this first blast-related restitution as a step towards achieving justice. In February, London’s High Court of Justice found Savaro liable to victims of the blast. Savaro is thought to have ordered the shipment of ammonium nitrate which detonated on Aug. 4, 2020. Nearly three years after the blast, victims’ relatives regularly protest the paralysis of the Lebanese probe into the explosion — which has been suspended for over a year due to unresolved complaints against the lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar.
The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) claimed that irregular migration attempts departing from Lebanon were behind “nearly half” of the 378 deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route in 2022. The IOM’s report published yesterday found that 3,800 people died in migration attempts throughout the Middle East and North Africa last year, a record high since 2017. The report noted that the actual death toll “is likely much higher than reported.” The region "accounted for more than half of the total 6,877 deaths recorded worldwide," the IOM said. Irregular departures from Lebanon’s shores more than doubled for a second year in 2022 amid increasingly dire living circumstances.
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel (Beirut I) confirmed to L’Orient Today that a “model of a bomb that is not suitable for detonation” was found near his residence. “I want to clarify that the location of the grenade is situated outside the perimeter of my residence,” Gemayel said. Speaking to local media, Deputy Secretary-General of the Kataeb Party Patrick Richa interpreted the grenade as “a message” ahead of today’s parliamentary presidential election session. Nadim's father was Bachir Gemayel, the founder of the Lebanese Forces militia during the Lebanese Civil War who was elected president in 1982 but assassinated in a bomb explosion before taking office. Nadim's cousin, Pierre Gemayel, a former Lebanese Kataeb party politician, was also assassinated in 2006 in Lebanon.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Six points to keep in mind for Wednesday’s presidential electoral session”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz