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Lebanon: Hezbollah, Amal end boycott of cabinet

January 15, 2022

The end of the standoff clears the way for ministers to meet after a three-month gap and come up with a plan to stop the country's economic meltdown.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
Shiite group Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, is a major force in Lebanese politicsImage: picture alliance/AP/H. Malla

Powerful Lebanese groups Hezbollah and Amal on Saturday said they would end a boycott of cabinet meetings.

The decision paves the way for the crisis-hit country's government to meet for the first time since October.

The groups refused to attend cabinet meetings after a dispute over the handling of an investigation into the Beirut port blast in 2020.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group and Amal, another Muslim Shiite group, said they were returning to the power-sharing government to approve the 2022 budget and discuss an economic recovery.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati welcomed the decision to end the boycott and would call for a cabinet meeting when he received a draft 2022 budget from the Finance Ministry.

Talks with IMF to resume after cabinet meeting

A government-approved recovery plan was a prerequisite for resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Lebanon is in the grips of one of the world's worst economic crises.

Its currency has collapsed, and more than half of its people cannot afford food. A severe fuel shortage was compounding the crisis.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday blamed "corrupt and incompetent authorities" that "have deliberately plunged the country into one of the worst economic crises in modern times."

Mikati said his government hoped to sign a preliminary agreement for an IMF support program in February.

The IMF told the Reuters news agency they would hold a virtual meeting with the country's leaders in the last week of January.

lo/wd (AP, Reuters)