BEIRUT: Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat has said that the problems between his party's leader Saad Hariri and Justice Minister Ashfaf Rifi are not political, downplaying speculation of an internal rift over the Michel Samaha case.
He did, however, note that intensive contacts had been made within Future to resolve the issue as both officials were keen on maintaining unity ahead of the commemoration of the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Saad's father and Future Movement founder.
“What happened between Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi and the leader of the Future Movement Saad Hariri is a problem of coordination rather than a political problem due to Hariri’s absence from Lebanon,” Fatfat said in remarks published Saturday in Kuwaiti daily Al-Seyassah.
Fatfat seemed to downplay any existing rift among members of the Future Movement two days after Hariri distanced himself from Rifi, after the latter stormed out of a Cabinet session when Prime Minsiter Tammam Salam declined to discuss the terrorism case against former Minister Samaha.
Rifi spoke to reporters after leaving Cabinet, saying he would not return until it refers Samaha's case to the Judicial Council, prompting Hariri to distance himself from Rifi in a tweet minutes later.
“Minister Rifi's position does not represent me and no one should challenge us regarding the assassination of Wissam al-Hasan or the Samaha trial as those who committed the crimes will receive their punishment,” Hariri said.
The Future Movement, along with other parties belonging to the March 8 bloc, will be commemorating the 11th anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Saad's father, on Sunday.
Hariri is set to deliver a speech by video link, where he is expected to comment on the 20-month-long presidential vacuum in Lebanon.