A political conflict between the Future Movement, led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi has reached a no return level, particularly after security forces arrested last week three supporters from Rifi’s camp.
The latest development between the two former allies opens the door for a political confrontation, with the rapprochement of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon next May.
Rifi plans to enter the elections with a number of candidates in Sunni-majority areas, where the Future Movement owns its popular weight, particularly in the city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s capital in the north.
In a press conference held on Monday in Tripoli, Rifi fiercely lashed out at Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouq, one of Hariri’s ministers at the government, and director-general of the ISF Imad Osman, accusing them of “harassing his supporters in Tripoli.”
He also named director of the Information Branch in the north, Col. Mohammad Arab, who he said was responsible for threatening and shooting Col. Omar al-Bahar, one of Rifi’s main bodyguards.
Rifi’s escalatory rhetoric against the Future Movement is based on previous accumulations.
The former justice minister considers the rift between the two sides had started with the trial of Michel Samaha, and the candidacy of Suleiman Franjieh and Michel Aoun to the presidential seat.
The Future Movement on Monday did not accept Rifi’s verbal attack.
Member of the party’s politburo, former MP Mustafa Alloush said that Rifi’s supporters had confessed that al-Bahar had ordered them to shoot on his own car.”
Alloush told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Rifi’s insistence to link the next parliamentary elections with the arrest of his bodyguards was not useful.
“People will vote the candidates who politically represent them,” he said, adding that Rifi was launching popular slogans that might only serve him temporarily.
“We advise him to present a clear political program and not restrict his rhetoric to slogans that lead to nowhere,” Alloush added.