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Saturday, December 03, 2022

Hezbollah, ally ends cabinet boycott in crisis-hit Lebanon Nation World News

BEIRUT ( Associated Press) — Lebanese militant Hezbollah group and its main Shiite ally said on Saturday they were ending a boycott of cabinet meetings after a three-month standoff that worsened the small country’s unprecedented economic slowdown. .

The two Shia groups said in a joint statement that they would attend a cabinet session to approve new budgets and measures to deal with the two-year crisis, and to discuss a recovery plan. He said they would part ways because of the quick economic fallout in recent weeks.

Both groups boycotted the cabinet since October, demanding changes to the national investigation into the devastating August 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut and effectively paralyzing the government.

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Hezbollah had demanded the removal of the judge in the port blast, accusing it of bias. Judge Tarek Bitter meanwhile faced several legal challenges and lawsuits seeking his removal, which forced him to suspend the investigation at least four times. The investigation has been stopped for the time being.

Beetar summoned and charged several senior officers with intentional negligence, which led to the explosion, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands. Two Shia groups vowed to continue their efforts to remove the judge investigating the port blast.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati welcomed the decision of the two groups to end the boycott of the cabinet. He said the state budget should be ready for discussion within a few days earlier this month.

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A government-approved recovery plan is a prerequisite for resuming discussions with the International Monetary Fund. Lebanese officials had said a deal would be possible by the end of January, a timeline no longer possible after weeks of government meetings. The IMF delegation is expected to arrive in Lebanon soon.

Lebanon’s economic crisis, which unfolded in late 2019, is rooted in years of mismanagement and corruption by the same political class that has been in power for years. The crisis has pushed more than half the population into poverty, depreciating the national currency and increasing inflation and unemployment.

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