Eight dead in ‘shocking’ West Bank traffic accident

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The president of the General Labor Union warns against “a certain catastrophe” in Lebanon in the midst of the economic crisis

BEIRUT: The president of the General Labor Union, Bechara Al-Asmar, warned of “a certain catastrophe, since hospitalization is now only available to the richest”.

At a press conference on Friday, he commented on the multitude of crises facing the Lebanese, including “the persistent dollar exchange rate madness, insane increases in fuel prices, the electricity bill, the abolition of the dollar. drug subsidies; and depositors’ loss of savings resulting from bank circulation – considered organized theft.

He warned that “the budget proposal included a provision to increase the customs dollar, which would raise the prices of goods by 30%, and increase all taxes and duties.”

He added: “This is unacceptable because it involves the removal of subsidies on everything in exchange for nothing, which amounts to IMF conditions without any supervision.”

The new warning came as the ruling elite tried to resolve its many conflicts that are blocking political and administrative progress.

President Michel Aoun signed a decree calling on Parliament to hold an extraordinary session starting Monday and ending March 21.

This will restore parliamentary immunity to ministers charged with the crime of the Beirut port explosion, including current MPs, one of whom was the subject of an arrest warrant in absentia and who did not still been executed.

The parliamentary session paves the way for the transfer of power from a forensic investigator to a parliamentary body charged with prosecuting ministers and MPs allegedly responsible for the explosion.

Lawyer and activist Hassan Bazzi said that “the main parties to the settlements are Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun”.

This follows the intense political discord between Aoun and Berri which peaked last week.

Bazzi said the settlement prompted Aoun to sign a decree calling on parliament for an extraordinary session.

He also said the parliamentary session’s agenda includes amending the law under consideration by the Constitutional Council – approving only six seats for expatriate voting instead of letting them participate in national elections. .

Bazzi also indicated that parliament is likely to approve the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, setting up a parliamentary judicial committee to examine appeals against the decisions of Judge Tarek Bitar who issued arrest warrants against several ministers. .

As Cabinet is called to meet on this basis, Bazzi said appointments for the panel would be made on a quota basis, where “the diaspora loses the opportunity for change and the political system regains control.”

Berri and Aoun tried to hide the parameters of this regulation by triggering a new debate concerning the extraordinary parliamentary session.

Although the main title of the emergency session is the discussion and approval of the two draft budgets, the presidential decree – bearing the signature of Prime Minister Najib Mikati – has on its agenda “the laws ratified that the president may ask to be re-examined and the urgent and necessary bills or proposals of laws related to the legislative elections.

Berri said in a statement on Friday that “parliament is independent and is not limited to any description of projects or proposals that the office of parliament decides to present and that the president has the right to respond to after their publication by the General Authority. . “

The statement added: “This is the provision and case law of the constitution.

The president’s team responded indirectly through unidentified sources that “they don’t want to get into a debate with Berri”.

They added that article 33 of the constitution “stipulates that the parliament can be convened in extraordinary sessions by a decree fixing their opening, their end and their agenda”.

Parliamentary sources replied to Aoun’s party that “the procedural authority can certainly set parliament on the agenda it wishes to consider during this extraordinary session, provided that the work of parliament is not limited to this agenda”.

The regulations to be followed require the convening of the Cabinet.

However, Hezbollah’s bloc of MPs ignored governance issues and only supported the opening of an extraordinary parliamentary session extending until the date of the regular session, given the urgent need to adopt laws relating to “rescue, liability and regularity of the state”.

Questions remain as to whether these regulations will allow Cabinet to meet.

Political observers have indicated that the settlement between Aoun and Berri – which has been favored by Hezbollah – may require the absence of ministers of Hezbollah and the Amal movement at the next cabinet session, with the exception of the finance minister, because the Cabinet had to discuss the general budget. .

They added: “This aims to tie the ongoing conflict further to the resumption of Cabinet work and the removal of the dossier from Judge Bitar’s port. “


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