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Public school teachers demanded improved compensation during a protest outside the Parliament building that coincided with legislators' discussion of the education sector. Omar Ismail, head of a contract teachers' union in northern Lebanon, told L'Orient Today that educators demand their monthly salaries be increased from approximately $90 to $600 and that they receive transportation allowances, raised from around $1 to $5 for every working day. Suoad Gharios, founder of "Nahnoo Wahed" (We Are One) NGO, told L'Orient Today that despite her association's work paying school fees for impoverished families, their children are deprived of their right to education due to repeated school closures. A Human Rights Watch report released last Wednesday relayed an estimate by teachers that "most students were one to two full years behind their grade level."
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said a 13th parliamentary presidential election session, comprising "successive rounds until a president is elected," would be held in "early October." Berri told Al-Liwaa yesterday that he is "committed to the participation of everyone" in a dialogue initiative joining the heads of different parliamentary blocs after which they will either "agree on a name, or disagree and hold an open session." In comments to Annahar published the same day, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea reiterated his refusal to participate in the dialogue, dubbing it a "farce." The same day, Forces of Change MP Najat Saliba announced the end of her eight-month sit-in inside the Parliament building protesting the presidential vacuum, saying she would redirect her focus towards environmental issues. Fellow Forces of Change MP Melhem Khalaf will continue the sit-in, launched in January after an 11th failed attempt to elect a president and persisting since the failed 12th attempt with new candidates in April.
A historic Tripoli building that municipal authorities previously warned could collapse finally crumbled Monday evening, sending dust and debris into a main street in the city’s Zahriya neighborhood. There were no people inside the three-story building, according to witnesses, and only one minor injury from the collapse. According to the Tripoli mayor earlier this year, 700 buildings were at risk of collapse. The Monday night incident follows several other breakages in recent months in Tripoli, including the collapse of a school building ceiling in November that killed a teenage student. Earlier this year, a Tripoli man’s balcony also collapsed, fracturing his wrist. Tripoli residents previously expressed fears that cracks that appeared after the Feb. 6 earthquake had not been properly addressed by municipal authorities.
Parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee head Ibrahim Kanaan said the 2023 budget draft law sent by cabinet last month was outdated and called on the government to incorporate its measures into the 2024 budget. Kanaan said that the caretaker cabinet's approval of the 2024 budget on Sept. 4 makes the situation different from the previous year, when the budget was passed mere months before the end of the time frame it applied to. The draft budgets have been criticized by public sector employees for not meeting their adjusted compensation demands; by fiscal experts for lacking "investment spending;" and by the International Monetary Fund for falling short "in terms of timelines, coverage and accurate reflection of the deficit and associated monetary financing." The IMF also urged a 2024 budget that aligns "with the exchange rate unification process, avoids preferential tax treatment, and allocates resources to strengthen the tax administration."
Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi refuted having a personal dispute with the Director General of the Internal Security Forces Gen. Imad Osman, amid media reports of discord between the two. During a meeting with Grand Mufti Abdel-Latif Derian reportedly scheduled last week, Mawlawi restated his commitment to clearing the Lebanese administration from corruption after announcing his readiness to authorize anti-corruption proceedings against government officials. The anti-corruption statements, in light of a reported power struggle between the two security chiefs, have been interpreted as subtle jabs at Osman, who has been the subject of at least one trial in recent years. A Sunni politician told L'Orient Today the conflict between Mawlawi and Osman could "exacerbate the crisis within the Sunni community" — highlighting that the caretaker interior minister previously declined to authorize the prosecution of a security agency director in relation to the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast but "consents to the prosecution of the ISF director general for having authorized the drilling of an artesian well."
A woman suspected of poisoning her husband in collusion with her paramour was arrested earlier this month, the Internal Security Forces claimed in a statement yesterday. The deceased's body was found in Aley after his father reported him missing, prompting the ISF to question his wife and search their home. The ISF statement claimed that the woman allegedly poisoned the deceased's "mulukhiyah meal" with Lannate, an insecticide commonly used to poison stray dogs, after he suspected her affair with his friend — who reportedly fled to Syria. The smugglers who abetted the paramour's escape were arrested, the ISF said, adding that efforts are ongoing to locate him.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Local officials struggle to tackle illegal tree felling in Akkar”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Public school teachers demanded improved compensation during a protest outside the Parliament building that coincided with legislators' discussion of the education sector. Omar Ismail, head of a contract teachers' union in northern Lebanon, told L'Orient Today that educators demand their monthly salaries be increased from...