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Engineers Syndicate election confounds Lebanese political parties

Street protests over worsening living conditions in Lebanon continued on Monday as roadblocks moved from one city to another.

Lebanon is in the throes of a deep financial crisis called one of the worst depressions in modern times by the World Bank.

The parties in power in Lebanon have been in disagreement for eight months over the formation of a government.

The parties — the Free Patriotic Movement, the Future Movement, Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Lebanese Forces, outraged public opinion on Sunday by collaborating to maintain their control over the Engineers Syndicate in Beirut, which witnessed fierce elections to choose its delegates to the General Assembly of the Syndicate.

The parties lost in front of candidates of the “Syndicate Revolts” coalition, which represents the gatherings formed during the Oct. 17, 2019 revolution.

The elections continued in the Syndicate of Engineers headquarters until Sunday night.

A study of the results showed that the forces of Oct. 17 won 220 male and female delegates out of 283 seats.

Nealy 79 percent of the engineers’ votes were in favor of the uprising, and the rest of the votes were distributed among the parties in power.

Political and social activist Dr. Ziad Abdel Samad said: “The importance of what happened is that this syndicate includes about 60,000 engineers from different social classes from all of Lebanon and all political trends.”

“It is a good sample of what the upcoming parliamentary elections may look like,” he told Arab News.

“It seems that people have abandoned their parties and moved in the opposite direction, meaning that the parties in power no longer have solid bases.”

Sunday’s elections are a prelude to a second battle, which is the elections for the Syndicate Council and the president, which will take place on July 18.

So, have the parties in power not used their full weight in the primaries, waiting for the decisive battle?

Dr. Abdel Samad said that “the parties in power won one branch in the elections on Sunday, which is the branch of engineers who are state employees.

“It means that the parties that brought them through electoral recruitment forced these engineers to elect them (the parties in power) on Sunday.”

He added: “It is well known that the Syndicate of Engineers is not just a professional syndicate but rather has a long syndicate history and a role in political work, as this syndicate intervenes in drawing up reconstruction plans, the file of encroachment on marine property, transportation plans and the construction of dams.”

Dr. Abdel Samad said that “the mood of public opinion has lost its enthusiasm since the explosion of Aug. 4 and the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, these elections have been used to achieve change, which means that there is still hope for change.”

Dr. Abdel Samad spoke about “the revolution’s tendency to unite and not remain divided through the multiplicity of civil bodies. “This is the result of a strenuous effort made during the past period to push everyone to join a large, unified coalition.”

In November 2019, the head of the Bar Association, Melhem Khalaf, won the presidency of the Bar after he ran in the elections at the head of a revolutionary list in the face of traditional political parties.

Also on Monday, all transactions were halted at one of the main Lebanese public security centers in Beirut due to a power outage and a malfunction in alternative generators.

The computer systems of the Ministry of Finance in Beirut’s Palace of Justice malfunctioned due to a lack of maintenance, which caused the suspension of all fee collection transactions.

At Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, customs offices stopped receiving fees due to the lack of papers and inkwells, which led to a problem in freight movement.

The director of Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Dr. Firas Al-Abyad, announced the decision to “switch off the air-conditioning devices except in medical departments, despite the heatwave, because the power outages exceeded 21 hours per day, fuel is not available, and patients cannot cover the differences.”

“There is no need to use imagination or exaggeration … we are really in hell,” he said.

These are some of the manifestations of the collapse of vital sectors in Lebanon that have been occurring since last week, together with the chaos that prevails in the fuel, medicine and food sectors.

These developments are taking place as the ruling authority recently decided to use part of the mandatory reserves in the Banque du Liban in a desperate attempt to keep the heart of the state beating.

The dollar exchange pricing platforms on the black market returned to trading at 17,700 Lebanese pounds to the dollar earlier this week.

Source: Arab News

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