Lebanon News

Machnouk, Jumblatt engage in fierce battle over corruption accusations

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk arrives to speak at a press conference in Beirut, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (The Daily Star/Khalil Hassan)

BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Tuesday lashed out at Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt in a growing dispute between the two over corruption claims.

"This is Walid Jumblatt, one of the biggest and oldest corruption symbols in the history of Lebanon," Machnouk tweeted.

He attached an article written in el-Shark newspaper, accusing Jumblatt of being "corrupt."

The writer accused Jumblatt of stealing money from war-displaced refugees and waging a war against Sunni and Christian communities in Iqlim al-Kharoub during the 1998 and 2009 municipal elections respectively.

The article also cited Jumblatt's war against Defense Minister Samir Moqbel in March over the appointment of Brig. Camille Daher as the new head of Military Intelligence.

Machnouk's tweet prompted Health Minister Wael Abu Faour to respond, accusing the interior minister of building wealth by selling driving licenses and installing surveillance cameras on city streets.

Abu Faour, loyal to Jumblatt, reportedly said during a Cabinet meeting Monday that "Machnouk is wasting the expenditure of his ministry on personal matters."

However, Abu Faour denied after the meeting such remarks, describing them as "suspicious."

Machnouk bickered with Jumblatt Monday after the latter accused an adviser to the minister of leading a campaign against the Internal Security Forces' Judicial Police.

The PSP chief criticized Machnouk's adviser, a retired ISF brigadier general, for leading the campaign against Judicial Police chief Brig. Gen. Naji Al-Masri, who is affiliated with Jumblatt.

Tawhid Party chief, Wiam Wahhab, later intervened in the tit-for-tat on social media, saying that Jumblatt’s years of corruption are much longer than that of Machnouk, who has only been in government for two years.

“Suddenly Nouhad Machnouk became corrupt because he refused to remove two Druze officers from his office, who do not pledge political allegiance to Jumblatt,” Wahhab tweeted.

Machnouk's party, the Future Movement, released a statement defending the interior minister, saying he was only being attacked because of certain policians' personal agendas.

"The interior minister has fulfilled his duties for all the Lebanese and he fulfills his responsibilities towards all the areas and political factions which will strengthen the state and civil peace," the statement said.





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