Lebanon Daily News Brief 03/21/2022
Central Bank Governor Charged with Illicit Enrichment
Lebanese Judge Ghada Aoun charged BDL Governor Riad Salameh with illicit enrichment, which is the first of such charges brought against him. The illicit enrichment charge relates to the purchase and rental of Paris apartments, and Salameh denies any wrongdoing, as he claims an audit demonstrates that his wealth is not derived from public funds. [Reuters]
IMF Meets with Government
A statement released by the Deputy Prime Minister’s office reported that the government met with the International Monetary Fund last week, discussing capitol control and banking secrecy laws. According to L’Orient Today, “The parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee will review on Wednesday the budget of the Energy Ministry, the last ministerial budget needing review before the committee can move on to discussing tax amendments.” [L’Orient Today]
PM Praises KSA-French Initiative For Lebanon
Prime Minister Najib Mikati in publicized remarks, praised a humanitarian French-Saudi initiative for Lebanon. According to Naharnet, “a French-Saudi fund had been decided in a meeting between Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, Miqati told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, in remarks published Monday. He said that KSA has donated $36 million, through the King Salman Relief Center, for humanitarian aid to Lebanon.” [Naharnet]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Lebanon’s Elections: Who’s In And Who’s Out?
AbiNader writes, “Lebanon’s politicians speak volumes of their intentions, yet all they have to show for it is their mastery of procrastination, denial, thuggery, abstentions, and other tactics from their corruption toolkit, ensuring that any threats to their priorities are mitigated. As Ibrahim Johari has documented, there are significant obstacles imposed on new entrants to politics as well as to voters, themselves. The Arab News article observes that less than half of all registered candidates survive to get on a ballot, being unable to find a list that will include them. Although in some districts the election regulations do allow for both individual and list-based voting, independent candidates without more unified backing ultimately face an arduous challenge . . . With the registrations now complete, emerging questions are increasingly concerned with the possibility of the election‘s postponement should Hezbollah, Amal, and the Free Patriotic Movement come to the conclusion that their alliance will lose its majority position in Parliament after May 15th.”
Confessional Seat Distributions, Political Balance of Power, What’s At Stake in the May 15 Elections: Everything You Need to Know About Lebanon’s 15 Electoral Districts
Fayad writes, “The large constituency encompassing all of the western neighborhoods of the capital, with a Sunni majority, and large Shiite and Christian minorities, has been an undisputed stronghold of the Hariri clan since the 1990s. The withdrawal of Hariri and the Future Movement from the current elections opens this constituency to all possibilities and could strengthen the penetration of Hezbollah and its allies unless the situation is steered in a way that would remobilize the Sunni electorate around a list that is close to Hariri’s choices. The opposition movements could also make their way into this urban constituency, which, however, remains difficult to access due to a relatively high eligibility threshold.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.