The Lebanese parliament on Thursday ratified the emergency declared in Beirut following the devastating explosion in the port when the French military minister, Florence Parly, begins a support visit in a turbulent social and political context.
Beirut is officially in an emergency. The Lebanese parliament on Thursday, August 13, approved the government’s decision taken after the devastating explosion in the port. More than a week after the August 4 tragedy that left 171 dead and more than 6,500 injured, the social context remains tense in Beirut, where Lebanese expressed anger at their political class, which is responsible for the explosion but also for the Lebanese crisis. At the same time, the French Minister of Military Florence Parly begins a support visit.
In a desolate Beirut, where the whole neighborhood is nothing but ruins, talks about demonstrations – little followed – have been circulating on social networks to prevent the session of Parliament, which began at 11.00. ) in a congress center in the capital.
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The Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, who has been in office since 1992, opened the session – the first since the tragedy – with the official presentation of the resignation of several deputies protesting the lack of power, illustrated by the explosion port.
Politics under pressure
Drama on August 4, too much disaster for Lebanese already exhausted by an economic crisis, revived a protest movement launched in autumn 2019 against the entire political class, accused of corruption, incompetence and negligence, and today held directly responsible for the explosion.
Many officials feel, sometimes for months or even years, the presence in a warehouse in the port with lots of ammonium nitrate, and this for six years, by assuming certain officials and according to sources. sure.
On Thursday, Parliament officially ratified the emergency declared by the government the day after the two-week tragedy. The vote was necessary because Parliament has to give its consent to the NGO’s legal agenda for more than eight days.
It was not immediately clear, after the alternate vote, whether the emergency began on Thursday, or whether it had already been considered valid since 5 August.
The government had specified that during an emergency, a supreme military power would be responsible for the powers of security matters.
For the NGO’s legal agenda, such a measure would “undermine the freedom to demonstrate” and allow the army “to prevent gatherings that are considered a” threat to security “.
In recent days, collisions have rocked the proximity of parliament on several occasions, the police fired tear gas at protesters throwing stones.
Florence Parly meets Michel Aoun
At the same time, foreign visitors follow each other in Beirut. French Military Minister Florence Parly and Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, number three in US diplomacy, travel to the Lebanese capital on Thursday.
“It is a support visit, which serves in particular to repeat the messages of the President of the Republic (..) and which reflects France’s most important role in the response to the crisis,” said AFP Noor Akl, press secretary of the French embassy in Beirut.
The ministry’s office also said on Wednesday that one of the goals was “to clear the port to make it operational again”.
This trip comes a week after President Emmanuel Macron, who promised aid to the Lebanese and called on the authorities to launch structural reforms to benefit from international reconstruction aid.
Florence Parly’s visit also comes at the height of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, an area rich in hydrocarbons and raging between Turkey and Greece. France has temporarily deployed two Rafale fighters and two French naval vessels there, according to a statement from the French Ministry of Defense on Thursday.
In Beirut, Florence Parly is scheduled to tour the site of the explosion and meet with President Michel Aoun and with the head of the Lebanese army, Joseph Aoun.
The Minister will host overnight Tonnerre helicopter transports from Thursday to Friday, transporting an army construction team as well as a separation of dominant divers from the French Navy to verify that there are no wrecks, making it difficult to reach the port. . Food aid, in particular wheat, as well as building materials supplied by various French ministries and private companies are also transported by the building.
Justice will ask ministers
In addition, the Lebanese prosecutor will from Friday question several ministers, past and present, about the years-long presence in the port of Beirut about lots of ammonium nitrate.
“The hearing will begin on Friday with former Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi, ahead of next week’s summons” by at least three other ministers, including the current outgoing Minister of Public Works, Michel Najjar, told AFP the legal source.
Former or current Minister of Finance or Justice will also be called according to this source.
“If a crime or negligence was found by a minister, (regular) justice is not competent to prosecute them,” she added.
The Attorney General must then transfer his case to Parliament, as the competence will fall to a special council responsible for accused ministers and presidents.