Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement, announced on Saturday that they were ready to take part in Lebanese government meetings again, after more than three months of political deadlock that have worsened the country’s serious economic crisis. “We announce our agreement to participate in the meetings of the Council of Ministers intended to approve the national budget and to discuss the economic rescue plan and all that concerns the improvement of the living conditions of the Lebanese”, affirmed the two Shiite movements. in a joint statement.
Formed in September 2021 after 13 months of endless political wrangling, the government has not met since October 12 due to tensions surrounding the investigation into the devastating August 4, 2020 explosion at the port of Beirut (more than 200 dead).
Pointed out for criminal negligence, the authorities are accused by the families of the victims and NGOs of wanting to torpedo the investigation to avoid charges. The ministers of the powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah and the Amal movement had notably affirmed that they would boycott government meetings until the replacement of judge Tareq Bitar, in charge of the investigation.
The political impasse has worsened the economic crisis that has hit the country since 2019 and which has been classified by the World Bank as the worst in the world since 1850, with an unprecedented depreciation of its currency and an impoverishment of the population.
Reacting to the announcement of the two Shiite movements, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a statement that he “will convene the Council of Ministers for a meeting as soon as it receives the draft budget from the Ministry of Finance”.
Hezbollah and the Amal movement said their decision to participate in government meetings was a “response to the needs of citizens”, citing “the collapse of the Lebanese pound exchange rate, the decline of the public sector, the collapse of income and purchasing power” of the population. Against the backdrop of galloping inflation, around 80% of the population in Lebanon lives below the poverty line according to the UN and the local currency has lost more than 90% of its value on the black market.