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No date was set for the next parliamentary presidential election session after yesterday’s 12th failed attempt to elect a president. All 128 MPs were present yesterday for the first election session since January. MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Movement, opposition movements and their allies cast 59 ballots for International Monetary Fund official and former Finance Minister Jihad Azour. Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and their allies cast 51 votes for Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh. The National Moderation bloc, composed of former Future Movement-affiliated MPs, claimed the eight votes cast for “New Lebanon.” Opposition MP Elias Jaradeh announced over the weekend that he intended to vote for former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, who received six votes. The remaining ballots included a blank vote, a canceled vote and a single ballot for Army Commander Joseph Aoun. After the first round of votes were tallied, several Hezbollah-affiliated MPs exited the chamber, forcing a loss of quorum. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri closed the meeting amid calls for a recount over a missing ballot.
Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar is in Brussels today for a seventh EU-organized aid-pledging conference for Syria, as he continues to call for repatriation of refugees from Lebanon. “The Europeans cling to their position which consists of rejecting the return of these displaced persons [Syrians] to their country for the sole purpose of obtaining funding for help during this conference,” Hajjar tweeted Wednesday night. Hajjar has repeatedly called for the deportation of Syrian refugees and called the UN’s aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon “a crime against Lebanon.” Hajjar also tweeted that “the return of displaced Syrians to their country is the only real solution and the only acceptable one.”
A ceiling collapsed yesterday in the Ain al-Hilweh camp just outside Saida, slightly injuring one woman. The family of eight who lives in the house blamed the UN’s Palestinian refugees agency UNRWA for the collapse, claiming that the agency had been negligent and ignored their requests to restore the building. The family claimed that the agency inspected the house a week prior to the collapse. “Many houses in the camp need to be restored,” Adnan al-Rifai, a member of a popular committee in the camp, told L’Orient Today.
“Pressure on the generators” interrupted state telecoms provider Ogero’s services in Bir Hassan, Beirut. Over the past few weeks, fears rose that fuel shortages would cause widespread shutdowns to Ogero’s network. The caretaker telecoms and finance ministries have also traded blame over dwindling funds. The Finance Ministry claimed it transferred the funds and it was up to the Telecoms Ministry to request them from the central bank. The Telecoms Ministry, however, said it could not access the funds because the role of senior accountant remains unfilled.
The Lebanese Army announced it killed a gang leader after a raid in Haour Taala, in the Bekaa, allegedly responsible for the death of three soldiers in February. The raid escalated into clashes near the Dar al-Amal hospital in the same region where the gang members were taking the alleged gang leader. Several of the gang members were ultimately arrested and their weapons and ammunition seized, according to the army. The same gang is suspected of participating in a violent clash that killed three soldiers and three suspects in February in the same region.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Maskoon returns, with Leos Carax”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz