Friday, July 1, 2022

Lebanon’s divided parliament holds first session since voting

BEIRUT ( Associated Press) — Lebanon’s newly-elected parliament was holding its first session on Tuesday, with lawmakers expected to elect the country’s longtime parliament speaker Nabih Beri for a seventh four-year term. His re-election is practically guaranteed, even though there are more than a dozen new MPs who have won seats running on the reform platform.

The new legislature is being introduced as Lebanon is gripped by the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling class, which has been running the country since the end of the civil war. . ,

Elected on 15 May, the new parliament is deeply divided, with the coalition holding a majority of seats in the 128-member legislature. The militant Hezbollah group and its allies lost the majority they had held since 2018 and now hold 61 seats – four short of an absolute majority.

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13 independent candidates pulled out of the 2019 protest movement and some Christian parties in parliament have said they will not vote for Berry, giving him very thin support from mainly Shia parties.

Despite this, Berry is expected to be re-elected from the Hezbollah-led coalition, an ally who has held the position since 1992. Beri is the head of the Shia Muslim Amal militia and is the only candidate for the position of speaker, which is under Lebanese power-sharing agreement made by a Shia.

Ahead of the session, some independents and new lawmakers gathered outside the port of Beirut – the scene of a major explosion in August 2020 that killed more than 200 people – and met with the families of the victims. After the meeting, they went to parliament, surrounded by hundreds of supporters chanting the slogan “Thawra,” revolution in Arabic.

The investigation into the port explosion, when hundreds of tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate exploded, has been stalled for months amid legal challenges by officials charged by the investigating judge.

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“Beirut has a right to know who killed him,” said independent legislator Yasin Yasin, referring to the probe into the mess.

The presence of independent parliamentarians in the legislature is a major achievement – ​​they walked into a fragmented vote and faced intimidation and intimidation by mainstream parties.

It sends a strong message to politicians who have held onto their seats for decades and continue to do so despite the economic downturn that has made Lebanon poor and the largest number of emigration since the 1975–90 civil war. The wave has started.

Tuesday’s session is expected to reflect the legislature’s split between pro-Hezbollah and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers, who will find it difficult to work together to form a new government and implement desperately needed reforms.

Nation World News Desk
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