Lebanon News

Berri slams ‘suspicious campaign’ of Army critics

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri heads a session at the Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. (Mahmoud Kheir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri questioned the “suspicious” motives behind recent criticism of Parliament and the Lebanese Army, arguing that the two institutions are symbols of Lebanon's unity in remarks published Saturday.

“The campaign [against the Army] and the campaign against Parliament are similar and suspicious and they both aim at undermining these two institutions which set a model for the unity of Lebanon,” Berri told Al-Joumhouria daily.

Berri also questioned the insistence of the March 14 coalition to put the Army under further scrutiny over the Abra clashes despite the military probe launched into what happened during the battle with militant Islamists in the southern suburb of Sidon.

“Why are they maintaining the attack against the Army, what do they want? [The Army] gave the truth about the clashes so why do they want to put it on trial?” he said.

The Future-led March 14 coalition has been calling for an inquiry from the Army over the alleged involvement of Hezbollah in the Abra clashes between supporters of Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir and the Army.

Hezbollah has denied such involvement.

March 14 leader have also asked for clarifications over reports of abuse of detainees by soldiers after the clashes.

Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn and Army representatives did not show up earlier this week for a session of Parliament’s Defense Committee which had been scheduled to take up the issues of Army conduct.

Berri hailed the stance of Ghosn and the Army leadership for not attending the session and said the Army should not appear as if it was the one who attacked Assir and his supporters.

“The military institution is conducting its investigations over the issue and there is no need for it to be questioned,” he said.





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