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Dina Mahmoud, Agencies (Beirut, London)
Lebanese President Michel Aoun confirmed yesterday that parliamentary consultations to appoint the prime minister will take place on time next Monday, while analysts dealing with Lebanese affairs underestimate the chances of forming a new government ahead of parliamentary elections set for next May. year are planned.
Aoun said in a tweet published yesterday by the Lebanese presidency via his Twitter account: “In identifying any due diligence or suggestion, the parliamentary consultations will take place in a timely manner, and any possible request for postponement must be justified and justified.”
Aoun had announced last Monday that binding parliamentary consultations will take place to nominate a prime minister to form a new government next Monday.
Lebanon is witnessing a political crisis that has prevented the formation of a new government after the resignation of Hassan Diab’s government on August 10, against the backdrop of an explosion that shook the port of Beirut on the fourth of the same month, and the apology from Prime Minister Nominee Saad Hariri for failing to form a new government, bringing Lebanon back to the forefront and opening the door to worsening chaos in a country witnessing an economic and financial crisis, the worst since the civil war that took place in his country, during the last quarter of the last century.
In statements published by the British newspaper “Financial Times”, analysts dealing with Lebanese affairs underestimate the chances of forming a new government in Beirut ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for May next year, although the international community is closing the current government vacuum puts a precondition for providing aid to Lebanon’s finances.
The government urgently needs to come to light, to implement the necessary reforms in the Lebanese economic arena, and to negotiate a rescue plan with international donors, in particular the International Monetary Fund, to help Lebanon overcome its current plight caused by decades of mismanagement and corruption, exacerbated by the Corona epidemic sweeping the country.
Currently, regional and international donors are hesitant to provide financial support to Lebanon’s ruling political elite, accused of corruption by protesters and critics. Donors prefer to focus their aid on the military, which is seen as the only institution that can protect the unity of the country.
But this international push for government formation is unlikely to change the current political scene in Beirut.
According to well-informed Lebanese sources, it is unlikely at this stage that “any Sunni political figure will take up the position of prime minister as many politicians in the country fear taking on this role, whose possible failure to play could successfully lead to them being punished by voters in the summer of 2022.”
Complicating further the task of formulating a new government formation in Beirut is the fact that “next year will not only be general elections in Lebanon, but also the end of Michel Aoun’s presidency, ushering in further political chaos.”
Analysts have ruled out that current international pressure, including the European Union’s threat to impose sanctions on those hindering the formation of the Lebanese government, would lead to rapid progress on this path, saying regional and international powers are must now focus on the upcoming elections, and called on these parties to be aware of the difficulty of ending the government’s vacuum crisis in months.
In its report, the Financial Times quoted a Lebanese political source, who declined to be identified, as saying that all parties in the country are now focusing their efforts on preparing for the upcoming elections, even in light of expectations that the poll will fail. yield decisive results that would facilitate the formation of the government.
Analysts have warned that a long wait for this crisis to be resolved threatens a country that has fallen prey to massive inflation, and key institutions, such as the military, are increasingly warning that they are on the brink of collapse.
At a time when the Lebanese await the convening of a new conference in support of their country, which France plans to organize early next month to mark the one-year anniversary of the port explosion in Beirut, World Bank officials are stressing the importance of finding effective government in Beirut, noting that the current political paralysis is disrupting vital projects. It would lend a helping hand to various segments of Lebanese society, which have been thrown below the poverty line by the current crisis.
One such project is the launch of what could be a $246 million “social safety net” aimed at providing financial aid to nearly 200,000 Lebanese families suffering from extreme poverty.
The launch of the project was delayed for several months due to disagreements among members of the Lebanese parliament over the mechanism for overseeing how the financial aid included in it will be distributed and how the families benefiting from it.
Family food costs equal to 5 times the minimum wage
In the wake of the accelerated economic collapse, the Lebanese family’s spending on food is now five times the minimum wage, according to a study by the American University of Beirut, at a time when inflation rates continue to rise, paralleling the deterioration of the economy. the local currency.
Since the summer of 2019, Lebanon has faced an unprecedented economic collapse that the World Bank considers to be one of the worst in the world since the mid-1800s. More than half of the population lives below the poverty line, while the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value against the dollar.
In a study published yesterday, the Crisis Observatory of the American University of Beirut stated that “according to the simulation of food prices in the first half of July, the minimum cost of food for a family of five per month was estimated at more than 3.5 million Lebanese pounds. , from The cost of water, electricity and gas not included.
As a result, according to the study, the family budget for obtaining food is now estimated at about 5 times the minimum wage.
The minimum wage is equal to £675,000, equivalent to $450 before the crisis and $30 now, according to the black market exchange rate, and the majority of Lebanese receive their wages in the local currency.
The prices of staple foods alone rose by more than 50 percent in less than a month, after the cost of 10 staple foods, such as vegetables, grains, dairy, beef and oil, rose by more than 700% in two years.
According to the study, “The escalating and weekly rise in commodity prices signals the beginning of Lebanon’s slide into hyperinflation.”
“The new indicators are very dangerous because we are witnessing an excessive price increase in a very short period of time,” said Nasser Yassin, supervisor of the Crisis Observatory.
In addition, the Directorate-General for Oil announced yesterday that it will stop supplying diesel fuel and hold a very limited amount for emergencies and exceptional cases, while preserving the strategic stock of the security forces.
This announcement comes in light of the lack of anticipation of opening new credits by the Bank of Lebanon to import additional ships of diesel for the oil facilities in Tripoli and Zahrani.
These facilities supply 30 percent of the local market’s diesel needs, compared to 70 percent for oil importing companies.
Biden extends national emergency to Lebanon
The White House has announced that US President Joe Biden has decided to extend the national emergency to Lebanon, amid ongoing activities threatening US national security. The White House said in a statement: “Some activities, such as continued arms transfers from Iran to Hezbollah, involving advanced systems, undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in the region and continue to pose an extraordinary threat to national security.” .” America and United States Foreign Policy. He added: “For this reason, the national emergency regarding Lebanon, decreed in Executive Order No. 13441 of August 1, 2007, should remain in effect after August 1, 2021.”
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