Medics protest economic crisis in Lebanon

Protesters chant slogans as as they demonstrate outside Lebanon's central bank during ongoing anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon Nov. 11, 2019. (REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares/File Photo)
Updated 16 November 2019

Medics protest economic crisis in Lebanon

  • Hospitals warn of ‘a health nightmare that the country has never seen before’

BEIRUT: Protesting over Lebanon’s economic crisis, doctors and nurses on Friday raised placards that read “we are on the verge of collapse and our situation is critical” in front of hospital entrances.

Medical staff were protesting to warn of “a health nightmare that the country has never seen before, even in the most heinous days of the civil war,” said the president of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals, Suleiman Haroun.

“Importers can’t import medical supplies due to the lack of liquidity, as hospitals are facing a financial crisis and banks continue to impose restrictions on dollar transfers abroad, even for importation.” 

Lebanese authorities are “facing a real crisis as a result of their failure to find solutions or to form a government to save the country,” Haroun said.

Ziad Abdel Samad, a civil society activist, told Arab News: “We’re still not sure how serious the leaks are about nominating … Mohammed Safadi as prime minister.”

His name circulated in the media on Thursday after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri received a response from representatives of the alliance of the president, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement approving of Safadi.

Safadi is a supporter of Hariri, who resigned on Oct. 29 amid mass protests in Lebanon. In the 2018 parliamentary elections, votes for Safadi were in favor of Hariri’s electoral list. Safadi’s wife, Minister Violette Khairallah, is among the ministers who supported Hariri in the government.

The country is facing a real crisis. People in power must come up with a solution, but not one political party is capable of doing so, including Hezbollah.

Ziad Abdel Samad, civil society activist

Following the news about Safadi potentially becoming the next prime minister, protesters in his hometown Tripoli gathered in front of his house and social center to chant against him.

Abdel Samad said: “The country is facing a real crisis. People in power must come up with a solution, but not one political party is capable of doing so, including Hezbollah.”

During the past 24 hours, the army arrested protesters in various regions for trying to block roads. 

Ghassan Hajjar, managing editor at An-Nahar newspaper, tweeted: “It seems like the authority has become an expert in turning people against it.”

Released protesters said they were severely beaten. Lawyers gathered in front of the Palace of Justice to object to the arrests and the prevention of those arrested from contacting a lawyer before the interrogations.

State Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat met with a delegation of lawyers and told them that those still under arrest will be released.

Related


Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Updated 10 December 2019

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”