BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri filed a defamation lawsuit Wednesday against local broadcaster Al Jadeed after it accused his Amal Movement of conspiring with private generators owners in southern Lebanon.
The lawsuit targetted Tahseen Khayat group, which owns part of the station, as well as Journalist Karma Khayat and Al Jadeed News Director Maryam Al-Bassam.
The lawsuit was filed with the public prosecutor's office, with the initial court hearing to be held on August 13.
Last week, Berri's Amal Movement defended its move to block a third floating power station from docking in Zahrani, South Lebanon, with some accusing the Speaker of doing so for ulterior motives to protect private generator owners' bottom line.
The Amal Movement argued that the party takes pride in denying the power barge access because it "poses an environmental risk as well as an obstacle for the power plants being developed in the area."
After bickering between the FPM, Amal Movement, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party, the ship will finally be docked in Zouk and contribute to an increase in power supply to residents of Keserwan, Byblos, and part of the Metn region of at least 22 hours daily.
Last month, Lebanon received its third floating power station — the 235-megawatt Esra Sultan, built and operated by the privately owned Turkish Karadeniz Energy Group. The power barge, which the Turkish company offered to the Lebanese government free of charge for three months, was described by Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil as a temporary but thrifty measure to reduce part of Lebanon’s electricity deficit.
The state-owned Electricite du Liban initially recommended linking the ship to the Zahrani plant but Amal Movement's opposition to the move prompted the Energy Ministry to relocate the floating power station to Jiyyeh, a decision that the PSP had also initially blasted.
The Jiyyeh power plant is also technically unequipped to process the full capacity of the power barge, EDL said. The Energy Ministry then decided to connect the power barge to the Zouk power plant where ongoing repairs have led to increased power rationing in Keserwan.
Power shortages have become a common fixture in Lebanon, with EDL failing to provide around the clock electricity to residents across the country.
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