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Lebanese PM allows clocks to go forward, after attempt to delay for Ramadan causes chaos

31 March 2023

Alamy

Salah Nasab, a street vendor in Sidon, Lebanon, who sells clocks, displays two clocks that show different times, on Monday

Salah Nasab, a street vendor in Sidon, Lebanon, who sells clocks, displays two clocks that show different times, on Monday

A DECISION to delay the introduction of Daylight Saving Time (DST) in Lebanon, until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, has been overturned after days of unrest.

The country’s caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, had agreed to a delay for one month, to allow Muslims to break their fast earlier. The clocks had been due to go forward one hour on Sunday morning, but, late last week, the Speaker of Lebanon’s parliament asked for it to be delayed until after Ramadan, a leaked video showed. The delay had been agreed only two days previously, on Thursday of last week.

Many people and businesses, including television stations, defied the order and put their clocks forward anyway, including many from the Christian community, causing chaos as people struggled to live across two different time zones.

The head of the Maronite Catholic Church of Antioch, Lebanon’s largest Church, said that it would not abide by the delay to DST. A statement from the Church said: “The hasty decision . . . issued by the caretaker Prime Minister, Mr Najib Mikati, without consulting with other Lebanese components, without any regard for international standards, causes confusion and damage at home and abroad.”

Mr Mikati, who is a Muslim, denied that he had taken the decision for “sectarian reasons”. He announced on Monday that DST would, after all, be introduced on Wednesday.

“But let’s be clear,” he told reporters, “the problem is not with winter or summer time, but rather with the vacuum caused by the absence of a president, and, from my position as Prime Minister, I bear no responsibility for this vacuum.”

Lebanon has been without a president since last October, as the parliament failed to elect a replacement for Michel Aoun. The country is in the midst of a financial crisis, and facing hyperinflation.

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