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Lebanon prime minister files $1 million lawsuit against cash-strapped American University of Beirut

As per AUB policy, full-time faculty cannot simultaneously hold public office [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 July, 2020

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Hassan Diab reportedly filed a complaint claiming nearly one million dollars in exit package compensation from his former employer last month.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab is seeking a $1 million financial settlement from the American University of Beirut (AUB), his former employer, sources told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

Prior to becoming prime minister, Diab was an engineering professor at AUB, serving as vice president for regional external programme, a position he was due to hold until 2025.

Sources close to the lawsuit told Al Jazeera that Diab last month filed a complaint claiming nearly $1 million as an exit package compensation.

As per the university’s official policy, those who serve as full-time faculty members cannot simultaneously hold public office and required to either resign or take a period of unpaid leave.

Sources told Al Jazeera that Diab did neither, dubiously arguing that his post as prime minister "forced" him from his university job.

In a meeting with AUB's board of trustees before his government was formed, he requested that the exit package be transferred outside Lebanon, according to a source present at the meeting.

That arrangement would have allowed him to skirt capital controls that have been in place in Lebanon since November due to a severe shortage of US dollars.

According to media reports, Diab's earliest threat to sue the university came in April.

Sources in the university decry what they see as a form of bullying, alleging Diab has abused of his position of power as the country's prime minister.

AUB - one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East - is now battling for survival, gripped by Lebanon's worst economic crisis in a generation and the heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Students, faculty at risk in crisis-hit AUB

In May, the university announced it was "facing perhaps its greatest crisis since the university’s foundation in 1866".

AUB President Fadlo Khuri said last month that the university will cut up to 25 percent of jobs, mostly administrative positions, particularly in its hospital, which has now shelved expansion plans.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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