BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri broke his silence Saturday after being the alleged target of an assassination plot, saying Lebanese politicians must quickly elect a new president and revitalize the work of the government along with heightened security measures to face the threat of terrorism.
“The security solution is not enough,” Berri told As-Safir in remarks published Saturday. “Just as the government was formed with a political will to ease tensions, the only solution now is to unite in politics and reactivate institutions particularly by electing a new president and resuming work in Parliament and the Cabinet.”
The speaker’s remarks come a day after Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Berri was likely a target of an assassination plot, which would have taken place at a UNESCO conference for mukhtars in Beirut.
Hours after the conference was canceled Friday morning, police raided two Beirut hotels and arrested 17 people who were allegedly planning a terrorist attack.
Around 11:30 a.m. Friday morning, a suicide bomber attacked a police checkpoint in east Lebanon, killing an officer and wounding 32 other people. Authorities said the intended target of the bomber was an unidentified location in Beirut.
In separate remarks to An-Nahar, Berri said there was a “fear that these people could have infiltrated the conference and blown themselves up among the participants.”
“Lebanon cannot bear such a catastrophe if it happened, God forbid,” he said. “The tourism season that carried high hopes for Lebanon in Beirut and other areas is the first victim of terrorism, which returned to surface and infiltrated Lebanon after the recent developments in Iraq.”
The speaker also said that lawmakers should also approve outstanding draft laws including the public sector wage hike instead of “watching this tragedy and threats that surround Lebanon.”
“These statements of condemnations and cries are no longer enough and are useless,” he warned.
Speaking to As-Safir, Machnouk echoed the speaker, urging politicians to come together to face the terror threat in Lebanon.
“We need more security measures and political understanding in all fields because we cannot afford the luxury of a dispute right now under any circumstances and regardless of how important it is.”