Lebanon News

Sidon MP Hariri defends slain brother against criticism

BEIRUT/MAJDALYOUN: Sidon MP Bahia Hariri said Friday she was prepared to stand trial to defend her slain brother’s legacy of achievements in reconstruction and sacrifices for strengthening the role of state institutions.

Hariri made her remarks amid a campaign by MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and its Reform and Change parliamentary bloc against Rafik Hariri’s financial policies as prime minister beginning in 1993.

The FPM politicians have also accused the Future Movement of amending the financial statement breakdown of earlier budgets, and are calling on Finance Minister Rayya Hassan to resign.

Hariri said certain parties were not only engaged in making false accusations against her brother, but had gone further, by describing his murder by a massive car bomb in 2005 as less than what he deserved.

“Those who consider the assassination of Rafik Hariri with tons of explosives as less than he deserves … To those I say, put me on trial on my brother’s behalf because I am proud of his achievements, sacrifices and belief in his nation and its people.”

“I have been since 1992 an MP and in line with the Constitution, I represent the entire nation … I participated in voting confidence in all of the martyr premier’s governments … which makes me accountable before those saying they seek justice,” she added.

Hariri – who was speaking at her home in Majdalyoun, Sidon, during a meeting with Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi – said the least she could do was to defend her brother’s path of rebuilding the economy and the country’s political institutions.

“The state is a guarantee of our unity, security and rights against those predicting its fall, and those targeting our army and security forces by aggressing and doubting them,” she added.

Endorsing Hariri’s position, Aridi said political controversies had governed Lebanon long before Rafik Hariri’s arrival in office – prior to his assassination, when he did not hold the post of premier – as well as after his death.

The transport minister  added that any assessment of the past era should be comprehensive, since selectivity was not in the interest of any party to conduct a selective review.

“This is the nature of Lebanon, and this is our political system … we should refrain from adopting provocative discourse or positions calling for chaos by engaging in rhetoric of hatred used to settle scores because this eliminates state institutions,” Aridi said.

Metn MP Nabil Nicolas said Friday that the Finance Ministry introduced amendments to the 2007 budget financial statement three years after its completion.

Nicholas said the finance minister had fired accounting director Rajaa Sherif because the latter submitted a breakdown of the budget’s financial statement for the three years spanning from 2005 to 2007 to the Auditing Department, in line with the Constitution.

Nicolas’ colleague, Michel Helou, said Hassan wanted to “reset the counter” of past accounts, in an attempt to cover violations and spending unaccounted for in the budget.

Helou said Hassan should resign if she could not “carry out what is required by her office.”

 

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