Tuesday, November 13, 2007

March 14 officials accuse Nasrallah of 'killing' consensus

March 14 officials accuse Nasrallah of 'killing' consensus
Aridi condemns 'harsh' speech

By Mira Borji
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: Lebanon's ruling March 14 coalition took aim at Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Monday, condemning the Hizbullah leader's speech a day earlier as a blow to ongoing attempts to resolve the impasse over the selection of a new president. Speaking on behalf of the Cabinet, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi called Nasrallah's speech "harsh and bitter." "Nasrallah's speech has destroyed the Lebanese people's hope [to reach consensus]," Aridi said after a meeting with Premier Fouad Siniora on Monday. "Is the speech directed against [Parliament Speaker Nabih] Berri? Is it a message that goes beyond Lebanon? Have we reached a point where consensus cannot be reached to elect a new president?" he asked. Democratic Gathering bloc leader MP Walid Jumblatt also criticized the speech, but refrained from identifying Nasrallah by name, instead referring to him as "someone who has announced the death of all political initiatives aimed at resolving the Lebanese crisis, which he himself ignited." "Someone appeared before us yesterday threatening and menacing as usual ... and announced to the Lebanese the beginning of a new era of wars and conflicts which he hopes will change the face of the region, and certainly through the Lebanese gate," Jumblatt said in his weekly interview with his Al-Anbaa mouthpiece to be published on Tuesday. "Someone talked about thieves and murderers," he added. "It would be relevant to say that the thieves and murderers are those who [...] hampered the establishment of an international tribunal [to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri]."

"Thieves and murderers are those who have besieged Beirut, closed Parliament and paralyzed constitutional institutions to spread the culture of poverty and hunger in parallel to the culture of death." In his speech Sunday, Nasrallah addressed President Emile Lahoud, saying: "Do not allow the country to fall into the hands of thieves and murderers," in reference to the ruling coalition. "Thieves and murderers are those who launch such instigating speeches that are delivered at every fateful moment," Jumblatt said. "Such speeches are delivered on behalf of the Syrian agent or ally who ... makes us believe that he is not thwarting political solutions in the country." Jumblatt said the thieves and murderers are those who want a president who rejects international resolutions and the establishment of a state that owns the decision of war and peace and monopolizes weapons.

"This contradicts the vision of thieves and murderers who hide themselves under the name of resistance to transform Lebanon into an arena [for regional conflicts] to serve the thieves and murderers of the Syrian regime and their Iranian partners," he added. "Thieves and murderers are those who set up their own phone networks and link them to their security zones ... those who steal electricity and do not pay their bills," he added, in reference to Nasrallah's opposition to the government's plans to privatize the country's two mobile-phone networks. Sports and Youth Minister Ahmad Fatfat on Sunday accused Nasrallah of protecting the murderers of the March 14 Forces figures who had been assassinated in the past two years. "With his speech, Nasrallah has protected those who have assassinated our March 14 Forces allies," Fatfat said. "He has not only protected them though his alliances but also through his security zones." "What Nasrallah did is a stab in the back of Berri," he added. "It was an attempt to thwart all efforts to reach consensus." Fatfat said Nasrallah has "declined to an unprecedented ethical standard, particularly when he accused the majority of being a bunch of murders and thieves, while he knows that his allies are the killers and he is the one protecting the killers." Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh also defended the March 14 Forces. "We are not murderers, he [Nasrallah] is the one protecting murderers," he said. "The one who establishes illegal phone networks, the one who does not pay electricity bills and the one who protects hashish in certain Lebanese regions does not have the right to talk about thieves." Democratic Gathering MP Akram Chehayeb said Monday "the guide of the Lebanese republic appeared yesterday, clinging to his weapons and rockets, classifying people as usual and threatening without forgiving." In a statement, he said Nasrallah "is eager to change the face of history as a show of victory for Iran, immunity for Syria and destruction of Lebanon

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