Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab retracted on Friday his government’s previous decision to postpone building an electricity plant in the region of Salaata.
“With regard to the electricity plan, the Cabinet affirms its adherence to the ministerial statement in terms of the electricity plan and its implementation of previous government decisions, which included establishing electric power production plants, and consider that Cabinet Decision No. 2 on 5/25/2020 come in the context of implementing this plan without contradicting the others,” said a statement issued following a government session.
President Michel Aoun had asked the Cabinet Friday to reconsider its decision to postpone the building of a power plant in the village of Selaata on the northern coast.
To diffuse tension with Aoun, Diab found an exit to reconsider his government’s decision, despite rejections from the Amal Movement and the Marada Movement’s ministers.
The plan is also opposed by other political forces such as the Mustaqbal movement, the Lebanese Forces, and the Progressive Socialist Party.
Parties against the plan said that building a third plant in Lebanon requires tens of millions of dollars by the time the country is suffering from a dire economic and financial crisis.
The former government of Saad Hariri had approved a plan to build three new power plants, including a plant in the northern village of Selaata. The other two are to be built in Zahrani in the south and Deir Ammar in the north.
Political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Diab based his decision on a decision issued by the former government and not on a law.
“The current government had already rejected all decisions issued by the former cabinet, while it is now relying on one of those previous decisions to cover the backing of the Salaata plant,” the source said.
“With regard to the electricity plan, I asked the Council of Ministers to reconsider the decision taken during the previous session, for the public interest and not from any private interest. The plan noted the establishment of three electricity production plants in Zahrani, Deir Ammar, and Salata,” Aoun said at the start of the cabinet session.
He was quoted by Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad as saying that the Deir Ammar plant is still suspended for known reasons, and the Zouk and Jiyyah plants are old and there is a need to replace them with new ones, which imposes the establishment of alternative plants, including Selaata plant.
“Since the study prepared stats securing electricity 24/24, therefore the project is of importance in relation to negotiations with international institutions, so it is necessary to proceed with the electricity plan as was planned in the year 2019, and based on the decision of the previous government,” Aoun told ministers.
For his part, Diab informed the cabinet about his tour to the northern Bekaa region, to review the measures taken to close illegal crossings used for smuggling between Lebanon and Syria.
“It can be said that these measures are supposed to lead to a large-scale of controlling the smuggling operations and we need to continue efforts, to close this file, which causes great damage at various levels in Lebanon,” Diab said.
However, the cabinet decided to postpone the appointments until next Thursday's session.