February 4, 2023

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Attack on UN convoy in Lebanon: PM assures justice

Beirut: Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, UN He promised a full investigation into the attack on peacekeepers that killed one person.

Mikati said on Monday that it was “unacceptable to minimize the seriousness of the incident” near the village of al-Aqibiya in southern Lebanon.

“This incident should be taken seriously. “Thorough investigations should be done and accounts should be given,” he asserted during a meeting with media persons.

The Lebanese military intelligence department is investigating the incident.

Last Wednesday, 23-year-old Irish peacekeeper Sean Rooney was killed and three others were wounded when a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) convoy fired on a target in al-Aqibiya.

UNIFIL acts as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel and in the south, near the border, acts as a bastion for Hezbollah, backed by Iran.

One of the injured, Private Shane Kearney, remains in critical condition in hospital.

“We hope the investigations will be successful soon,” Mikati said.

According to him, it is unlikely that the attack was planned as it was carried out outside UNIFIL’s area of ​​operations.

Last week the Prime Minister visited the UNIFIL headquarters and condemned the incident.

On Monday, outgoing Defense Minister Maurice Slim took up the news about the wounded Irish battalion and confirmed that inquiries were underway.

Security services have a role to play and all involved will be held accountable, he said.

Mikati also made it clear that his government is committed to expediting day-to-day business during the presidential vacuum.

“The main priority is to elect a new president and form a new government. The presidential election does not mark the end of the crisis, but rather opens the door to a grace period in the country to find a solution.”

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The catastrophic economic crisis that Lebanon is going through has caused the national currency to lose more than 90% of its value, with an unprecedented increase in the dollar exchange rate on the parallel market.

On Monday, the exchange rate reached 43,000 Lebanese pounds per dollar.

Due to deep divisions among MPs, the Parliament has not yet elected the President.

Mikati noted, “According to external data, some preparations are underway to resolve the Lebanon crisis. However, things need time.”

Christian groups oppose holding cabinet meetings, saying the caretaker government has no right to exercise presidential powers.

“If necessary, I will convene the Cabinet as per the constitutional powers vested in me. However, at this time, there is no urgency to hold the meeting,” Mikati said.

“Setting the Cabinet agenda is exclusively entrusted to the Prime Minister,” he recalled.

Also, Mikati noted that decisions of the Council of Ministers are “taken by a majority present for ordinary business and by a majority of members of the government for exceptional decisions”.

He called on his opponents, especially the Freedom Patriotic Movement (CPL), to “stop agitating and talk about disturbances”. It is very useful not to disturb other companies.

“The solution lies in the fact that the Lebanese agree on their vision of the future, far from sterile populism”, he continued.

“We are in a state of emergency and we need to agree basic solutions as a government and as a parliament.”

“It was a great meeting,” Mikati said, referring to talks he held with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh a week ago.

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“We discussed the country’s affairs and he expressed his love for Lebanon, especially the Lebanese nationals living in Saudi Arabia,” he noted.

This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com