Lebanon's cabinet holds emergency meeting after protests

Lebanon's cabinet holds emergency meeting after protests
Lebanon's cabinet held an emergency meeting on Tuesday after protests over trash collection spilled over into street violence and calls for the feuding government to resign.
2 min read
25 August, 2015
Governmental builidings behind graffiti drawn concrete walls installed in Beirut following protests against corruption [Anadolu]

Lebanon's cabinet met on Tuesday morning headed by Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and rejected the winning bidders to manage the waste that Environment Minister Mohammad al-Mashnouq had announced on Monday.

Ministers from the Change and Reform bloc (headed by MP Michel Aoun) and Loyalty to the Resistance bloc (ministerial and parliamentary bloc of Hizballah) walked out of the session and refused to allow cabinet to make any decision before agreeing on what they called the "decision making mechanism" within government.

According to ministerial sources, discussions went on for three hours and tackled the political crisis in the country until the garbage-collection crisis issue was mentioned and the Aoun-Hizballah alliance ministers decided to obstruct the session by withdrawing from the meeting.

Loyalty to the Resistance bloc member, Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan emerged from the meeting saying: "We have walked out because many of the partners insist on not listening to the real demands of their partner."

However, there seemed to be a ministerial consensus on rejecting the waste management bids as was evident from the ministers' positions before cabinet convened, particularly towards the costs.

Before entering the meeting, most ministers had rejected what they described as the outlandish prices resulting from the tenders and called for the need to re-examine them. 

Minister Hajj Hassan, however, had other concerns and said: "We are here to look at the decrees that were issued without the signature of all ministers on them, which affects [the principal] of understanding within government," calling on ministers not to "use other issues as excuses to postpone looking at this subject (the decision-making mechanism)."

Aoun and Hizballah's team have been obstructing cabinet for more than a month, demanding an agreement on a decision-making mechanism within cabinet, while Aoun is also protesting against not appointing his brother in law, Gen. Chamel Roukoz, as Lebanese Army commander.

The winning tenders to manage waste in different Lebanese regions were distributed among the main political parties on sectarian lines and are being criticised by some ministerial blocs, in what seems to be self-criticism aimed at absorbing the anger on the streets.

Dozens of Lebanese are still demonstrating in the centre of Beirut in Riad Solh Square to protest corruption in government and the latter's failure to deal with a garbage-collection crisis that has been going on for more than five weeks.

The authorities had confronted thousands of protesters with brutal force on Saturday leaving hundreds of people injured.