The state of emergency grants the military sweeping powers to suppress public discontent.
Rabat – Lebanese parliament has officially approved the state of emergency in Lebanon that grants the military the power to prevent protests and censor the media. The move came in Parliament’s first session since the August 4 Beirut explosion.
Lebanon declared the two-week emergency measure on August 5, less than a week before the government resigned. After earning the required approval, the state of emergency is now officially set to run until September 21.
The Lebanese military, under a state of emergency, has the power to prevent public gatherings, like the large-scale protests seen over the weekend, declare curfews, and even censor the national media. Civilians in Lebanon deemed to be breaking emergency measures can face referral to military tribunals instead of judgment in a public court.
The move appears to be rooted in the self-preservation of Lebanon’s political elite amid a chaotic political landscape in which parliament is resisting calls to step down. Protesters staged mock executions of their political leadership over the weekend as popular discontent boils over.
If enough members of parliament resign, it would trigger a new election which is a key demand of protesters. Rights groups have denounced the move, highlighting the increased government powers already in place due to COVID-19 measures.
Lebanon’s government resigned on Monday, August 10, but remains in place as a caretaker government. Without sufficient parliamentary resignations, Lebanon’s political status quo remains in place despite overwhelming calls for new elections emanating from the streets.
Several foreign diplomats are arriving in Beirut, among them the French defense minister and the US under secretary for political affairs, as international players aim to influence the outcome of any potential change in Lebanese politics.
With the military in charge and foreign actors actively lobbying those in power, the Lebanese people once again appear to be sidelined from any substantive conversation over the direction of Lebanon’s future.