Lebanon ‘could sink like Titanic’ without new government

2 weeks ago
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People protesting against Lebanon's political elite and the country's economic collapse in Beirut, Lebanon (12 March 2021)

Reuters

One of Lebanon’s top politicians has warned that the entire country could sink like the Titanic unless a new government is formed.

“The whole country is in danger, the whole country is the Titanic,” Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri said. “If the ship sinks, there’ll be no-one left.”

Lebanon has been without a government for more than seven months.

The previous administration resigned in the wake of the devastating explosion at Beirut’s port.

The disaster compounded an economic crisis that has left half the population living in poverty and prompted mass protests demanding the removal of a political elite they accuse of corruption, mismanagement and negligence.

Mr Berri issued his stark warning on Monday as he opened a parliamentary session called to approve an emergency loan of $ 200m (£145m) to keep Lebanon’s lights on for at least two months.

The state-run electricity company, Electricity of Lebanon (EDL), needs the money to pay for fuel for power plants beyond the end of this month.

On Sunday, one of the country’s four main plants had to shut down because of a lack of gas oil. EDL blamed problems with the unloading of a tanker and the blockage of the Suez canal.

EDL has been running on a loan allocated under the 2020 budget because the current caretaker cabinet cannot hold sessions to approve this year’s budget.

Without a new government, the Lebanese parliament cannot carry out the reforms demanded of it by the international community in return for foreign aid, the BBC’s Martin Patience in Beirut says.

For the past few months, political leaders have been arguing over the make-up of a new cabinet, while at the same time Lebanon’s crisis deepens every day, he adds.

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BBC News – Middle East

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