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Berri-Bassil Crisis Hampers Government’s Work

Berri-Bassil Crisis Hampers Government’s Work

Thursday, 1 February, 2018 - 09:45
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri heads a session of the national dialogue, at the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

Lebanese political officials are seeking to launch mediation efforts to resolve a dispute that emerged after the leaking of a video in which Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), called Speaker Nabih Berri a 'thug', stirring street protests by Berri’s supporters.

A senior ministerial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblat, were leading mediation to prevent an escalating crisis.

The Director-General of the General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim, is assuming another a mediating role to prevent the country from sliding into street disputes, which would threaten stability.

President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday that streets “have never been a place to resolve political differences.”

“What happened in the past two days should not be repeated,” he stressed.

In separate remarks on Tuesday, Aoun called for forgiveness, describing the recent events in Beirut’s streets as “a huge mistake that was triggered by a previous mistake.”

“I am looking forward to seeing those who traded insults forgive each other, because the nation is bigger than everybody,” he stated.

In response, MP Ali Bazzi, from Berri’s parliamentary bloc, said the speaker has the “strength, courage and patriotism that prompted him to offer an apology to all the Lebanese who were harmed by these protests, even though everyone knows that neither Speaker Berri nor the Amal Movement had anything to do with what happened on the ground.”

He noted in this regard that the speaker has been working during the past few days “to prevent movements and demonstrations and has contacted the security leaders through the security official in the movement (Amal), in order to preserve the interests of the country and prevent harming citizens in any region.”

Berri also denied all rumors about the resignation of his ministers from the government and stressed, according to Bazzi, that such discussions did not take place at any time.

The repercussions of the dispute have affected the government, which is temporarily “frozen”, according to State Minister for Planning Michel Pharaon.

The minister said the government “in the last few days, has entered into the storm” but insisted that the disruption was “temporary”.

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