Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced today, Friday, that he will convene the government soon, which would end the political paralysis that has been going on for more than a month, while demonstrators stormed the headquarters of the Ministry of Health in Beirut to protest against the lifting of drug subsidies.
Mikati said during a meeting with the General Labor Union in Beirut that he had sensed support for the government during the meetings he held outside Lebanon in the last period.
He added that the main demand he heard from the leaders he met was the necessity for the Lebanese parties to agree on dealing with the crises in the country.
He stressed that Lebanon is going through a difficult and dangerous stage, saying that the country can no longer afford to spend on subsidizing vital commodities.
The Lebanese cabinet has not met since last October 12 due to differences between the political forces over the investigation into the explosion of the Beirut port last year, and Mikati had said that he would not call for another cabinet meeting until a framework was found to resolve the issue.
Mikati’s announcement of the resumption of cabinet meetings soon, despite the continuing repercussions of Minister of Information George Qardahi’s statements, which sparked a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Mikati had implied Qardahi’s resignation, but the minister has so far refused to leave his post.
Two weeks ago, Al-Jazeera correspondent in Beirut quoted government sources as saying that the Lebanese Prime Minister would not call for a government session before Information Minister George Kordahi submitted his resignation.
Mikati met today, Friday, with President Michel Aoun, and the Lebanese presidency said – through its account on Twitter – that the Prime Minister briefed the President of the Republic on the work of the ministerial committees and the results they reached in preparation for presenting them to the Council of Ministers, which was decided to resume its sessions soon.
The Lebanese National News Agency stated that the meeting also dealt with the current situation in the country, the Lebanese-Gulf relations and the existing work to address them, based on Lebanon’s keenness to establish the best relations between it and the brotherly Arab countries in general, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in particular.
Intrusion and protests
On the other hand, a number of Lebanese today, Friday, stormed the Ministry of Health building in Beirut to protest against the lifting of subsidies for medicines, according to video clips circulated by activists on social media.
The clips showed that the protesters, during their storming of the Ministry of Health, demanded the minister’s resignation.
The demonstrators knocked their hands on the door of Minister Firas Abyad’s office in an attempt to meet him, according to the same clips.
The Lebanese National News Agency said that they chanted angry slogans and chants, and knocked on the door of the minister’s office in an attempt to meet him.
On the other hand, dozens of Lebanese protesters today, Friday, staged a sit-down in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, denouncing banking policy and rejecting the restrictions placed on depositors’ money.
A video clip showed dozens of protesters holding banners calling for the return of depositors’ money and for the central bank to be held accountable.
Lebanon is suffering from an economic collapse described by the World Bank as one of the worst recessions in modern times.
The Lebanese pound lost 90% of its value, and 75% of the Lebanese people slipped into poverty.
Mikati’s government is focused on resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund in order to provide much-needed foreign aid to Lebanon.