Lebanon News

Fatfat: Withdrawal of bodyguards will not affect lawmakers at risk

File - Bodyguards escort MP Ahmad Fatfat as he arrives at the Parliament in Beirut, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: A decision by the Interior Ministry to withdraw “extra” security personnel assigned to MPs will not affect lawmakers facing serious security threats, according to Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat. “Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel called me today [Friday] and told me that this decision will take into consideration [the need to protect] figures who face actual threats,” Fatfat told The Daily Star Friday.

“He [Charbel] told me that the Central Security Council is discussing the issue,” Fatfat added.

In its latest meeting, the council reassigned a number of “extra” Internal Security Forces working as bodyguards to MPs and politicians because the assignments violated government decree No. 2512. Charbel said Thursday that all MPs in Lebanon had been informed about the matter.

The March 14 coalition urged the Interior Ministry to reverse the decision, saying it would hold Charbel responsible for any harm suffered by coalition MPs given the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Referring to Hezbollah and Amal Movement lawmakers, Fatfat said: “We in the March 14 coalition do not have militia capabilities to protect ourselves.”

Fatfat said he was optimistic after Friday’s development, noting that Charbel was dealing seriously with security threats.

Beirut MP Ammar Houri, who learned that some of his bodyguards would be withdrawn by the Central Security Council, said the decision has not been implemented yet.

“I don’t think this decision will be implemented. The Central Security Council has only one choice: to reverse this decision,” Houri, a Future Movement official, told The Daily Star.

For his part, caretaker premier Najib Mikati discussed the decision with Charbel at the Grand Serail, and Mikati highlighted the need to protect certain figures facing threats.

Four state security personnel are assigned to protect each lawmaker. However, ISF personnel were assigned to several MPs over the past few years due to the security threats following a wave of political assassinations that rocked the country after the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri.

Lebanese Forces MP Strida Geagea praised Charbel’s announcement:

“Charbel’s stance cleared up the confusion and stressed his commitment to retaining security measures during this dangerous phase.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 20, 2013, on page 2.




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