BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prosecutor Thursday requested a copy of a recent TV interview with Zghorta MP Suleiman Franijeh in which he accused President Michel Sleiman of irregularities in France, judicial sources told The Daily Star.
According to the sources, Judge Hatem Madi tasked the Central Criminal Investigation Bureau with supplying him with the recording of Franjieh’s interview with OTV television aired Tuesday.
In his interview, Franjieh said that the president has what he described as “painful files” in Paris, hinting that such files implicate Sleiman in irregularities and indicate there are “restrictions” on his actions and stances.
Franjieh also said that Sleiman made it to the presidency after an “international agreement” was reached over electing him as the head of Lebanon’s state.
However, the president hit back Wednesday at the Marada leader, challenging him to submit such files to the judiciary.
Assuring that he does not submit to any dictates or orders whatsoever and that he did not make any commitments or promises with any side, whether local or international, Sleiman urged Franjieh to submit what he has to the Lebanese judiciary for the necessary legal measures.
According to Franjieh, a leading figure in the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance, the president’s involvement is such alleged files force him to follow foreign and local groups.
The Marada leader, who has repeatedly voiced criticism against Sleiman, said the latter has made commitments to internal and international parties ahead of the coming parliamentary elections in June.
He also claimed that the president did not want the March 8 coalition to win.
In a recent interview published by Al-Akhbar newspaper, Franjieh criticized the president over his opposition to the Orthodox Gathering proposal agreed on by the country’s four major Christian parties, including Marada.
“France and Qatar oppose the Orthodox law and that’s why [Sleiman] is against. It’s simple,” he said.
The Orthodox proposal, based on proportional representation, stipulates each sect elects its representatives with Lebanon as a single district.
Along with Sleiman, the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party, and Prime Minister Najib Mikati have all rejected the proposal, arguing that it would further sectarian divisions in Lebanon.
Franjieh, a fierce supporter of the Assad regime, also said Sleiman came to power with the support of Qatar, France and Syria, and now that Syria has been weakened, “he has shown his true self, biased and against our project.”
Last year, Franjieh voiced his dissatisfaction with the president over his statements about the case of former Lebanese Minister Michel Samaha, who was accused of transferring explosives from Syria to Lebanon.
In an interview to al-Manar television channel in November, Franjieh said he hoped Sleiman's statements would transpire to be "a slip of tongue."
Sleiman had said that Syria’s Assad should call him for a clarification about the case.
Samaha and a leading Syrian official were charged in August for planning attacks in Lebanon.
Sleiman has also condemned Syria’s repeated violations of Lebanese territory, which have heightened tensions along the border with Lebanon’s neighbor.