BEIRUT: Change and Reform bloc members Baabda MP Alain Aoun and Telecoms Minister Nicholas Sehnaoui have hit back at Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, who claimed that both MPs take their instructions from the Syrian regime and Hezbollah in an interview published Wednesday.
In the interview, Jumblatt said that the alliance between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement will not be severed and claimed that Aoun recently visited Damascus, where he was instructed by a high ranking security officer that a “dispute [between the FPM and Hezbollah] is not allowed.”
Jumblatt’s remarks were in reference to a recent rift within the March 8 coalition caused by the law that made contract workers with Electricite du Liban full-time employees. Hezbollah officials have denied that any such rift exits.
“They are acting as if the Syrians are still in Lebanon,” Jumblatt added.
In his response to Jumblatt’s statements, Aoun denied having ever visited Syria and said: “I do not know whether this information is a new vision dreamt up by Jumblatt or [relayed to him] by an informer who has no credibility,” the National News Agency reported.
“Since I have never had the chance to visit Damascus, I promise Jumblatt to visit Syria for the first time with him, given his accurate knowledge of its streets, castles, intelligence offices and officials,” Aoun added.
However, Jumblatt also said in his interview that Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun was correct over the issue of EDL’s contract workers, who have held regular strikes and prevented operations at the state-run company.
“Despite the political differences between us, Aoun has a rightful demand. There needs to be a fair solution to the issue of the contract workers,” Jumblatt said.
Sehnaoui had a similarly strong response to Jumblatt’s statement that Hezbollah should order the telecoms minister to hand over data to security agencies which many consider essential for investigating assassination plots against MP Boutros Harb and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
“It is clear that Jumblatt is not used to the rules of law and the Constitution. I adhere to the decisions issued by the Cabinet, which state that the Higher Judicial Council must approve all requests for telecoms data,” he said.
The minister denied taking orders from Hezbollah or any other entity, adding that he only follows the decisions issued by the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc.
Jumblatt also commented on charges made this week by Druze politician Wiam Wahhab that a PSP member was involved in a plot on his life in Syria, saying: “If I had people in Syria, I would have tasked them with another target.”
In the interview, Jumblatt said that he planned to visit Saudi Arabia to meet King Abdullah, but that a date had not been set.
The PSP leader added that Hezbollah used inconsistent rationales to justify keeping its weapons, at times tying its arms to the conclusion of the Arab-Israeli conflict and at others saying the “the weapons are for [use in] liberation,” quoting Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad.
Jumblatt also criticized Iran.
“The Iranians have diminished [Nasrallah] through their decision to stand by Assad,” he said.