Bassil Says Not behind Cabinet Suspension, Urges Jumblat to ‘Hand Over Fugitives’

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil attends a joint press conference after a conference on Syrian refugees at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin October 28, 2014. Representatives of around 40 states and NGOs met for a conference on Syrian refugees and the neighbouring countries bearing the brunt of the crisis. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil said Monday that the repercussions of the deadly Qabrshmoun incident will not end before the Progressive Socialist Party hands over the “fugitives.”

Reminding of PSP chief Walid Jumblat’s announcement that his party is not “above the law,” Bassil called on Jumblat to prove that the PSP is “under the law.”

“Why are they rejecting the referral of the case to the Judicial Council?” Bassil said in an interview on NBN television, reminding that cases that shook the Druze community such as the murder of Ziad Ghandour and Ziad Qabalan and the assassination of Saleh Aridi had been referred to the council.

“They are depicting the issue as if gunmen from the two sides opened fire, whereas in fact preparations were made to attack a convoy and there was a planned ambush, and if anything happened in response it was self defense,” Bassil added.

“Someone prepared a systematic attack and the signs emerged two days before the incident,” the FPM chief said.

“Jumblat is saying you either deal with me differently in politics or there would be a (security) problem in the country,” Bassil suggested.

“I am peaceful but they should not use this to scare us, seeing as the army protects us when needed,” Bassil added.

Asked whether the FPM and its allies are behind the suspension of cabinet sessions, Bassil said they are not to blame for the interruption although they have “the right to do so.”

“The prime minister opted for postponement to prevent an explosion in the session,” he explained, noting that the FPM has “expressed solidarity” with State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib whose convoy came under gunfire in Qabrshmoun.

“Two of his bodyguards were killed and 16 gunshots hit his car, some of which struck his seat’s headrest,” Bassil explained.

“I have asked PM Saad Hariri twice about the date of the upcoming cabinet session and of course we’re in contact, though some are trying to give the impression that there is a dispute,” the FPM chief said.

As for his “presidential” ambitions, Bassil said “he who wants to become president would not fight with everyone like I’m doing.”

“May God prolong the life of President (Michel) Aoun and it would be shameful for me to think of the presidency today,” he added.



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