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Lebanon’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that it “regretted” the revoking of the country’s voting rights at the U.N. General Assembly after falling behind on membership dues, saying the state’s “reputation and prestige” would be impacted. 

War of words between Foreign, Finance Ministries after Lebanon Loses UN General Assembly Vote. The foreign ministry argued that it had “performed all of its duties and completed all transactions within the deadline.”The finance ministry hit back saying it did not receive any request to make the payment.

Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, with the Lebanese pound slumping amid a shortage of dollars while banks are tightly controlling access to cash and blocking transfers abroad. 

It is also without a functioning government since Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister in October, a situation criticized this week by Jan Kubis, the by U.N.’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon, as “increasingly irresponsible”. 

The U.N. said Friday that seven countries are so far behind in paying their dues that they are losing their voting privileges in the 193-member General Assembly — Venezuela, Lebanon, Central African Republic, Gambia, Lesotho, Tonga and Yemen.

Lebanon’s finance ministry said on Saturday it had “not received any review or demand for payment of any dues to any party”. It said that the only review took place on Saturday morning and that the outstanding fees would be paid by Monday. 

Under U.N. rules, a country can lose its General Assembly vote if is in arrears by any amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for the previous two years, unless it shows evidence of an inability to pay that is beyond its control. 

The 193-member world body has been faced with a cash crisis due to a lack of payments by countries. 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres introduced extraordinary measures late last year to cope with the cash shortfall, including banning non-essential travel and cancelling or deferring some meetings.

The World Bank estimates that Lebanon is in recession, and has warned that the number living in poverty could increase from a third to half the population.

The economic downturn coincides with an anti-government protest movement that has remained mobilised since October 17.

Protesters are demanding the removal of a political class they deem incompetent and corrupt.

Reuters/AFP

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