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Cabinet meets, Charbel wants Sidon military zone
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, center, heads a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, center, heads a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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BEIRUT: Lebanon's Cabinet met Wednesday at the Grand Serail in Beirut with 117 items on its agenda along with a proposal by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel to turn Sidon into a military zone.

Charbel's suggestion comes after clashes over the weekend in the southern coastal city between supporters of Hezbollah and a Salafist sheikh that claimed the lives of three and wounded five others.

The violence raised concern of sectarian tension in the area.

The fighting between supporters of Hezbollah and Sheikh Ahmad Assir was over party posters raised in Sidon commemorating the resistance group's Martyr Day.

The Lebanese Army deployed heavily in the area soon after the clashes, setting up checkpoints and dispatching elite units to restore and maintain order.

Upon arrival at the Grand Serail, Charbel said Sidon should be turned into a military zone to ensure security in the city.

In a chat with reporters prior to the session, State Minister Marwan Kheireddine voiced opposition to Charbel's proposal and asked: "Should we declare a state of emergency every time something happens in Lebanon?"

The Cabinet is also expected to discuss the recent scandal of illegally imported medications to the country in which the brother of Hezbollah's State Minister Mohammad Fneish is allegedly involved in.

Fneish, who says he will not cover for anyone the judiciary finds guilty in this case, said Wednesday that there was confusion in the media and urged that the issue not be politicized or become an item of bickering in the media.

"There is confusion between forging documents and whether the medications are harmless," Fneish told reporters at the Serail.

“Only via laboratory tests could get to the truth of the matter,” he added.

The Cabinet resumed its work last week following the assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, defying calls by the March 14 opposition for an alternative government.

The opposition has accused Prime Minister Najib Mikati's Cabinet of providing the necessary cover for the Oct. 19 car bombing that killed the intelligence chief.

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