Lebanese government to hold first meeting in three months on 24 January
The announcement comes two days after Hezbollah and the Amal Movement announced they would be ending their boycott of government sessions
By News Desk - January 17 2022

(Photo credit: AFP)

Lebanese media reported on 17 January that the govenment’s cabinet will hold its first meeting in three months, on 24 January, after Hezbollah and Amal Movement leaders decided to end a boycott of cabinet sessions.

According to Economy Minister Amin Salam, the long overdue cabinet session will mainly focus on Lebanon’s 2022 budget.

Legislators from both Hezbollah and the Amal Movement had refused to attend any cabinet session since mid-October, following a massacre in the Tayouneh neighborhood of Beirut in which several of their supporters were gunned down by militants allied with the far-right Lebanese Forces (LF) party.

Until a few days ago, the two political allies maintained that they would not take part in any government session until the perpetrators of the massacre are brought to justice, and until judge Tarek Bitar, who they view as biased, is removed as lead investigator of the 2020 Port of Beirut blast.

On 14 October, dozens of Hezbollah, Amal, and Marada party supporters – and various professional associations – gathered in the Tayouneh neighborhood of Beirut to demand Bitar’s removal from the port blast investigation, as he has been accused of politicizing the probe to persecute figures critical of the US.

This is when the LF militia opened fire on them, killing at least seven.

On 15 January, Hezbollah and Amal announced in their statement that they would end their boycott, saying the decision was driven by a desire to approve the 2022 budget and to discuss an economic recovery for the crisis-hit nation.

Meanwhile, on 17 January, Lebanese Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri stressed that the decision by the two parties was made autonomously and came in light of the exacerbation of the socioeconomic conditions in the country.

However, he also highlighted that neither group has changed their stance towards judge Tarek Bitar.

Lebanon’s economy has been in crisis since 2019 when it finally collapsed under a mountain of debt. Since then, the country’s currency has shed over 90 percent of its value while 80 percent of the population has fallen below the poverty line.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, whose post is held by a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s sectarian political system, has said his government would seek to sign a preliminary agreement for an IMF support program in February.

But the IMF has said that any final agreement is dependent on the Lebanese government presenting a comprehensive plan of economic reform that includes lowering its deficit, cutting wasteful spending and improving tax collection.

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