Mikati: Syria arrest warrant against Hariri political

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Prime Minister Najib Mikati described Saturday recent Syrian arrest warrants against former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and MP Oqab Saqr as political and “legally void.”

“These arrest warrants are political par excellence, have no value and are legally void,” Mikati’s press office quoted him as saying.

Mikati’s statement came following a meeting with Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi at the Grand Serail.

Syria issued Tuesday arrest warrants for Hariri, Saqr and Louay Meqdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, over charges of providing weapons and funds for “terrorist groups” in Syria.

The warrants are based on recordings aired by local media outlets alleging that Saqr with Hariri’s assistance was arming and funding Syrian rebel groups.

Saqr has denied the allegations, saying the tape recordings were doctored. He insists that Hariri, who heads Lebanon’s Future Movement, tasked him solely with assisting Syrians on humanitarian grounds.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said earlier this week that Interpol’s office at the Internal Security Forces received the warrants from Syria at midday Tuesday, adding that copies had been sent to all Arab states.

However, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper, in an article published Friday, said Interpol rejected the Syrian arrest warrants.

The arrest warrants are seen as a response to the Lebanese judiciary’s request to interrogate two Syrian Army officials and get the testimony of President Bashar Assad’s adviser over their involvement in the case involving former Minister Michel Samaha.

Samaha was accused in August along with Gen. Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s National Security bureau, and an officer identified as Brig. Gen. Adnan of plotting terror attacks in Lebanon aimed at destabilizing the country.

According to the statement from Mikati’s office, the prime minister also reiterated his criticism of the March 14 over their boycott of legislative work involving government ministers.

“Some people’s insistence on boycotting constitutional institutions and continuing with political escalation and meager moves on the street are tantamount to political suicide and a repeat of the mistakes of the past which proved to be of no avail in this political reality,” Mikati said.

He repeated his call for rival parties to agree on an election law for the 2013 parliamentary elections and form a new cabinet to replace his own to oversee the polls, saying these steps would be provide the appropriate exit out of the current political crisis.

The March 14 coalition has demanded the resignation of Mikati’s Cabinet following the Oct. 19 assassination of a top intelligence chief.

The group has called for the formation of a neutral government to oversee next year’s polls.

In a bid to add further pressure on Mikati, opposition lawmakers have also boycotted Parliament’s work but are seeking ways to resume discussion on a new electoral law to govern the upcoming polls.

 

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