Lebanon News

Geagea urges government to announce state of emergency

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea speaks during a ceremony in Byblos, Lebanon, Tuesday, April 10, 2012. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Friday the government should announce a state of emergency in the country to forcibly prevent all manifestations of armed groups.

In a televised news conference, Geagea said that given the recent security incidents in the country, the government “should announce a state of emergency, even if partially ... to forcibly prevent all armed manifestations or security breaches.”

“The government should then search for the kidnapped Syrians and non-Syrians and free them,” he added.

Geagea also urged strict measures against those who attempt to block the highway leading to Beirut airport.

“It is no longer acceptable for the Lebanese people to be hostage to the whims of whoever wishes to close roads,” Geagea said.

The security situation in the country has deteriorated following Wednesday’s kidnappings of dozens of Syrians and a Turkish national by a local clan’s “military wing,” as well as the recent discovery of terror plots aimed at further destabilizing Lebanon.

The Meqdad family kidnapped over 20 Syrians and a Turkish man in retaliation for the abduction of their relative Hassan Meqdad by Syrian rebels. The Meqdads have since released some of their hostages.

Ten Syrians were kidnapped Thursday by a previously unknown group demanding the release of 11 Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria two months ago.

Geagea said he understood the Meqdad clan’s claim of not having any trust in the Lebanese government’s ability to release their relative but that this should not justify “the armed popular uprising against the current government.”

He said the government should be dislodged via democratic means and urged the Lebanese including the Meqdad family to use the 2013 elections to change the politicians.

He added that his party along and the March 14 coalition have repeatedly voiced their mistrust of the government since its formation in June 2011, saying: “We have fought for months with the government for the telecommunications data to be transferred to security agencies ... we are all subject to assassination attempts.”

March 14 has repeatedly called on the government to transfer the data, which they say is critical to the investigation of the attempted assassination of both Geagea and MP Butros Harb that occurred earlier this year.

President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati oversaw the transfer of the data last month.

During his chat with reporters, Geagea also said that the recent security incidents and the kidnapping of the Lebanese Shiite pilgrims were being used by the Syrian government to pressure Syrians in Lebanon as well as Mikati’s government.

“The incidents lead to the intimidation of all Syrians who are opposed to the Syrian government, particularly the refugees,” he said in reference to the warnings against Syrian opposition members in the country.

The LF leader also said that Syria is placing pressure on political figures in Lebanon as well as Arab countries who oppose it.

“Syria is resentful of the way the president and prime minister have been acting ... the Syrian government considered the current Cabinet to be its own so it automatically thought the government would help it,” he said.

Geagea also spoke extensively about the recent discovery of bomb plots in the north and said former Information Minister Michel Samaha, who was accused last week of plotting to assassinate political and religious figures in Lebanon and carry out terrorist attacks, is the true face of the March 8 alliance.

Samaha, along with Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk and a Syrian army officer identified as Adnan were also accused of planning to incite sectarian clashes through terrorist attacks with explosives that Samaha transported to Lebanon and stored after taking possession of them from Mamlouk and Adnan.

“Samaha should not be seen as an individual but a person belonging to the political group of March 8 and his behavior gives an image about this team,” Geagea said.

“Samaha was the one who prompted that the Syrian regime was protecting stability in Lebanon, have you seen that materialize?” he asked.

“It is clear that the one who subverts civil peace in Lebanon and carried out bombings is the Syrian regime and its allies,” he added.





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