Lebanese Parliament Speaker Calls for Speedy Formation of New Government

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for the speedy formation of a new government Thursday as lawmakers approved the government’s two-week state of emergency after the recent devastating explosion that killed scores of people and injured thousands of others.Lebanese state media said Berri urged lawmakers at parliament’s first legislative session since the August 4 blast to begin “speeding up the formation of a (new) government.” Lebanon declares state of emergencyLebanon’s Parliament met Thursday for the first time since last week’s blast that killed over 170 people. A state of emergency was declared after another night of protests as citizens continue to cry out for accountability. Plus, an update on the Japanese bulk carrier that struck a coral reef off the coast of Mauritius and leaked 1,000 tons of oil. And how scientists plan on bringing back the Malaysian variant of the Sumatran rhinoceros.Lawmakers have begun consultations on forming a new cabinet, a process complicated by divisions in a country governed by a sectarian power-sharing system. Parliament approved the state of emergency to suppress resurgent protests over corruption, mismanagement and negligence by the long-entrenched political elite.Hundreds of people have been injured in clashes with security forces who fired tear gas.WHO Appeals for $76 Million to Help LebanonMassive August 4 blast put hospitals and clinics out of commissionPrime Minister Hassan Diab announced his government’s resignation Monday night in the aftermath of the blast. The resignations were confirmed at Thursday’s legislative session.U.S. diplomat David Hale was to visit Beirut Thursday to emphasize the need for reform, the U.S. Embassy said.The Lebanese government took office in January with support from Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah and other parties. Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, and its allies have a majority of seats in parliament.According to the U.S. Embassy, Hale “will underscore America’s willingness to support any government that reflects the will of the people and is genuinely committed to and acting upon such a reform agenda.”The massive blast, which killed 172 people, injured about 6,000 others and left about 300,000 homeless, is blamed on the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored for six years at the Port of Beirut.Rebuilding is expected to cost billions of dollars. Economists have forecast the damage could erase up to 25% of the country’s economic output.Humanitarian aid is being provided to Lebanon, but foreign countries have made clear they will not provide funds to help the country avoid economic collapse without reform.

August 13th, 2020 by
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