ARAB NEWS: BEIRUT: On Friday, Najib Mikati, the Lebanese Prime Minister, announced that he would soon convene a cabinet session. He said that the country’s situation is “very difficult” and that people shouldn’t have to deal with any more crises. After protestors stormed the Ministry of Health in Beirut Friday morning, they made their remarks in opposition to the removal of subsides for medicines. This has led to a dramatic rise in the prices of essential health care services.
Arab News was informed by a source close Mikati that Information Minister George Kordahi would submit his resignation to the government at the soon-to be-held cabinet session. The diplomatic Kingdom and other Gulf countries have cut and economic ties to Lebanon after Kordahi’s statements about Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed political group in Lebanon, insists that Kordahi not resign to end the diplomatic crisis. Citing ‘national supremacy Recently, President Michel Aoun told a Lebanese military delegation “Lebanon always seeks to improve relations with the Arab states, especially the Gulf.”.” He said: “We hope that the problem that led to this conflict with these countries will soon be resolved.” It is vital that the Lebanese do not suffer and that they don’t pay for the events.” Interview with Al-Akhbar Arabic-language newspaper, published Friday, Aoun stated that he wasn’t enthusiastic about the dismissal of the information minister during the cabinet session and preferred that Kordahi make the final decision. Mikati met Aoun Friday morning to inform him about his plans to hold a session in the cabinet. Mikati then went to the General Labor Union headquarters and announced that there were over 100 issues on the cabinet’s agenda. He said: “We need to hold a session soon to manage state affairs, expedite public budget, and refer it to Parliament for approval. In parallel, we must approve the reforms (to achieve an) agreement (with the International Monetary Fund). ” Cabinet sessions were suspended in less than a month following Mikati’s September formation of his government. Hezbollah, Amal Movement and Hezbollah demanded the removal of Tarek Bitar (the judge overseeing the investigation into the August Beirut Port explosion), accusing Bitar “politicizing” this investigation. After the bloody battle between supporters Hezbollah/Amal Movement over Bitar’s handling the investigation on the one side, and the Lebanese Armed Forces/unidentified gunmen the other in Tayouneh, October 14 2018, Hezbollah/Amal Movement refused to participate in cabinet sessions. Hezbollah claimed that the LAF was responsible and called for the arrests of LAF members involved in the incident. Each successive crisis has contributed to Lebanon’s already catastrophic economic collapse. The Lebanese pound has continued to lose value; it is currently being traded at 23,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar. “Lebanon cannot afford to not resort to the IMF. Negotiations may continue until 2022,” Mikati stated. But, the IMF is a signal to the rest of the world that Lebanon can be rehabilitated and should be supported. He said, “The world doesn’t want Lebanon to fall and it is ready to assist us.” “And I mean the Arab countries when I refer to the world. We must first do the necessary work. Due to years and years of subsidy, we have seen an increased inflation rate. This is because the public treasury cannot support it.” He announced that steps would be taken “at the beginning of December to secure aid for 250,000 families from the World Bank, amounting to $245 million.” Mikati said the payment process would begin at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. “There is assistance intended for 40,000 families residing in villages 700 meters above sea level, worth $165 per family,” he added. We will also work with the UN Food Program to allocate $600 millions to the Lebanese starting in the next year.”Mikati also mentioned the illegal smuggling of subsidized medications for chronic and cancerous conditions and pointed out that an investigation into the shortage of subsidized infant formula on the market revealed that it was being “used for nutritional reasons in dairy factories Mikati stated that the government did not intend to sell any assets of the state at the moment. He stated, “It’s just not the right moment.” “Our priority right now is to reform all the sectors and improve electricity supply Ali Darwish (MP in Mikati’s parliamentary bloc) said that Mikati had “intensified their political consultations in pursuit of a solution to the political crisis.”. Darwish stated to Arab News that everyone was convinced of the necessity for cabinet sessions. All agreed that crises must be managed and that the judiciary should resolve judicial matters. Paralysis in the public and health sectors can cause paralysis. Hezbollah has no interest in blocking solutions because everyone will be affected.”
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