IMF Team to Visit Lebanon Next Week Accused of Being ‘On Embassies’ Payroll,’ Port Blast Victims’ Families Demand Apology
Efforts to Find a Consensus Candidate Kick Off
IMF Team to Visit Lebanon Next Week According to Reuters, “The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that a staff mission will visit Lebanon next week to discuss ways to “speed up” implementation of agreed reforms required for an IMF loan program amid deteriorating living conditions in the country.” [Reuters]
The IMF team is returning to Lebanon at a critical time. The next meeting of the IMF board is in October and if the items agreed to be completed in the IMF-Lebanon staff level agreement are not passed by parliament, then there is little hope that the board will agree to a reform package. The parliament has been very slow to address the necessary conditions outlined in the staff level agreement. When parliament did take action on the lifting of banking secrecy, they watered down the legislation and asked for the IMF to be more flexible. The IMF response has been that credibility comes before flexibility, which first requires the government to fulfill its commitments in the staff level agreement. The parliament has one last chance in the next two weeks to show the visiting IMF team it is serious and credible by implementing reforms outlined in the agreement. The clock is ticking.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Accused of Being ‘On Embassies’ Payroll,’ Port Blast Victims’ Families Demand Apology On Thursday, Caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury accused relatives of victims of the August 4th explosion of being “on embassies’ payroll.” The relatives issued a statement condemning the Caretaker Minister’s remarks “”when each of us has lost a martyr far more precious and superior than your counterfeited ministerial position.” [L’Orient Today]
The politicians have notched a win, promoting the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar from his position leading the inquiry into the Beirut Port blast. Whether or not his successor will fare any better is questionable. In the meantime, ministers should refrain from provocative statements that sully the reputation of the judicial system, which has lost much of its sheen as an independent actor. The incoming president will have their hands full gaining agreement on key judicial appointments going forward.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Efforts to Find a Consensus Candidate Kick Off On Monday, the 13 Forces of Change Members of Parliament began meeting with other political leaders to identify a consensus candidate for the presidency. At the same time, a high-level meeting was held in Paris between Saudi Arabia and France to discuss their joint fund to assist the Lebanese people and the country’s upcoming presidential vacancy. [L’Orient Today]
Talks to identify consensus candidates for the presidency have moved into high gear. Nowhere is this more evident than the efforts by the Forces of Change members in Parliament and the reform MPs meeting their counterparts to identify potential nominees. While several names occur with some frequency, there are no assurances that a deal will be struck before the October 31st deadline. All the sectarian parties, including the March 8 core of Amal and Hezbollah, are engaged in the current bargaining, which include filling the positions of the Commander of the Army, the head of the Central Bank, and other key positions in the cabinet. It is strenuous enough to keep track of who are the early favorites let alone start placing odds.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed 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.