On February 8th, ambassador Farah Berri, daughter of the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, was assigned to become in charge of a diplomatic mission at the Lebanese embassy in Qatar, replacing the ambassador Hassan Najm.
According to Al-Akhbar, this job will carry with it expenses of around $30,000 a month, which exceeds the expenses of the previous ambassador. The move raised a few concerns, particularly that there were other embassies without ambassadors whose situation was a higher priority than Qatar.
The deal was reportedly done between ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil and Speaker Nabih Berri who had previously been the director of expatriate affairs.
However, the ministry denied the charges, clarifying that Farah Berri was assigned her new mission after an embezzlement scandal at the embassy in Qatar, which caused the ambassador to be summoned back to Lebanon “pending the end of investigations and the identification of the culprits.”
According to the ministry, Farah Berri was chosen to head the mission in Qatar because she serves at the central administration and that, pending the end of investigations, she will be in charge of “carrying out diplomatic appointments in the coming period.”
The ministry pointed out that her appointment would actually cut costs because her salary would be lower than the previous ambassador’s salary.
“It is regrettable to mislead the public opinion with claims about deals at the expense of public administrations instead of focusing on the process of combating the theft of public funds and what the Ministry did in this regard from referring the file to the competent judicial authorities to putting those accused in this case on trial.” the statement concluded.
However, the public doesn’t seem to believe it. People’s reaction to the news was very negative. A person commented on Naharnet, “Hiring the biggest thief’s daughter goes against every demand the street has been making.”