Mikati, Charbel deny receiving hit list

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Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel denied Sunday that they received a list of politicians targeted for assassination from Future Movement MP Ammar Houri, as the MP stood firm on his claim that his party gave Charbel such a hit list.

Speaking to An-Nahar, Houri said in remarks published Sunday that “over three weeks ago Charbel received a list of 15 names in the danger zone, including 21 MPs, [and] three Future Movement figures. They need protection.”

Houri added in his comments to the paper that Charbel passed the list to Mikati, demanding a meeting with security agencies on the topic, but “Mikati asked for some time, until he returned from the Vatican.”

Mikati visited the Vatican last month.

Mikati’s office released a statement denying Houri’s assertions, without elaborating.

Charbel also denied receiving a list of targets from Houri.

“The office of the interior minister denies that Charbel received any list of figures at risk of assassination from MP Houri or having referred it to the prime minister, because protection is the prerogative of the security forces,” a statement from Charbel’s office said.

“All Charbel can do in this regard is ask the prime minister to strengthen state security if possible to guarantee necessary protection,” it added.

Houri and four other Future Movement MPs have said they have received death threats from Syria via telephone and text message, informing them they would be targeted after the October assassination of intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.

Hasan, a top security official, was killed by a car bomb in Beirut, breaking the calm following a previous period of assassinations in the country between 2004 and 2008.

Last week, Houri said he might have been the target of a bomb that was found in the Beirut neighborhood of Tariq al-Jadideh.

Charbel’s office said the interior minister has his own list of figures at risk, and they receive protection.

Later Sunday, he told local television station MTV that there are more than 15 politicians at risk in Lebanon, adding that the Internal Security Forces and the Army should ensure their safety.

Houri described Mikati’s denial as “either a shame because he did not communicate with Charbel, or [done] for political purposes.”

Speaking to a local radio station, Houri said the statement from Mikati’s office “suggests that [my remarks] are inaccurate … and that is unfortunate.”

Another statement from the MP’s office Sunday clarified that Houri did not say he personally gave Charbel the list, “but it was clear that a delegation from Future Movement’s leadership did so on Nov. 16 at 11:30 a.m. and the minister confirmed in his statement that he has lists.”

The statement insisted that Charbel had called Houri Monday, telling the MP he had “immediately called the prime minister who was about to travel on the day [of receiving the list], which the minister already had information about, and the prime minister responded that he would follow up on the case after he returns Wednesday, asking the minister to remind him.”

 

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