Press round-up for Friday, April 13th from the morning edition of Lebanon’s An-Nahar, Al-Akhbar, As-Safir, and Ad-Diyar newspapers.
Note: There is no press round-up on Sundays
Safadi blows a political bomb in Mikati’s face prior to the debate session.
Sleiman will not sign the additional expenditure draft “as long as its suitability is not proven.”
Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi blew a heavyweight political bomb yesterday evening, which represented a direct challenge of his relationship with PM Najib Mikati against a backdrop of a previous tension buildup between them with regard to renting power ships.
During an interview on the Kalam an-Nass talk show yesterday evening, Minister Safadi took ministerial and political circles by surprise, as he virulently criticized PM Mikati and even dared him to remove him from office.
Minister Safadi tackled the issue of cabinet expenditure and stressed the need to resolve the 8.9 trillion LL issue in order to be able to pay salaries and wages before the end of the month.
Minister Safadi said that the payment of salaries and wages will not be a problem eventually.
The circles close to PM Mikati declined to respond to Minister Safadi’s statements, merely telling An-Nahar that they will not comment on the issue. The sources also declined to comment on the reports regarding salaries and wages.
Sources close to the presidency told An-Nahar that President Michel Sleiman is looking into whether issuing a decree regarding the 8.9 trillion LL draft law is legal and in compliance with the public interest.
According to the sources, no one can force the president to do something, which he does not deem to be in conformity with the interest of the country.
Within the framework of his legal follow-up of this issue, the sources said, President Sleiman asked Finance and Budget Commission Chairman MP Ibrahim Kanaan to examine the amendments introduced to the draft by the committee and to know whether the president’s potential signature concerns the draft law as issued by the cabinet or according to the wording submitted to the plenary session of parliament.
The 3-in-1 General.
Change and Reform Bloc leader General Michel Aoun said: “Resigning Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas is a friend. The Free Patriotic Movement’s cooperation with him has ended without any animosity, and the relationship will be mended by future circumstances. As for Brigadier General Fayez Karam, the judiciary has made in decision in this respect.”
In an interview with Al-Akhbar, General Aoun declined to say “who he believes is fit as his [political] heir, as this would influence voters’ opinion in the future and represent an indirect imposition of [this political] heir.”
Aoun explained that he “developed the mechanism of choosing the chairperson of the Free Patriotic Movement” and that the person “who will impose himself on voters” will emerge in due time.
Aoun said that the “biggest traitor in his life was an officer who turned out later on to be collaborating with the Lebanese Forces security service, therefore leaking LAF Command secrets throughout the war between the two parties,” adding that “[this man’s] treason cost thousands of people their lives.”
Aoun said that he most bitterly felt the brunt of treason when comrades-in-arms recanted their oath and joined militias at that stage, adding – however – that there were not many of those, as they were outnumbered by the number of troops “who were martyred.”
Annan sees a rare moment and an incomplete commitment; the Security Council votes today on sending observers.
Syria stands before two tests: The endurance of calm and the containment of protests.
The ceasefire in Syria surprisingly stood despite some violations amidst fears of renewed confrontations in the country today, as the opposition has called for “mass protests” to take advantage of the relative calm prevailing in the country.
The Syrian authorities sought to deal firmly with this issue by reminding of the need to obtain a prior permit before staging any peaceful gathering or demonstration in accordance with the laws in force.
Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria Kofi Annan’s plan received additional support as Russia asserted that it supports the promulgation of a Security Council resolution on establishing an observation force, which is to head to Syria as soon as possible.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asserted that Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood will arrive in Damascus today to finalize the preliminary measures preceding the deployment of observers.
On the eve of a visit to Riyadh to meet with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “Annan’s plan has yet to be implemented,” adding: “Annan proposed a six-point plan and I do not believe that this plan is being implemented. There is no such thing.”
Contacts pertaining to the Syrian crisis were sped up in New York, as Annan briefed Security Council members on the latest developments of his mission via a videoconference from Geneva. Annan had previously issued a statement, whereby the ceasefire in Syria “is apparently respected.”
Annan said that “Syria seems to be witnessing a rare moment of calm on the field.” He stressed the need to “preserve” this calm and warned that “the situation is extremely fragile and may explode again if any bullet is shot.”
Ad-Diyar publishes new information on the shots that targeted Geagea in Maarab.
A Lebanese security team is expected to arrive today in Maarab in order to look into the shots fired against Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. This team will take out the bullets that are still lodged in the wall, knowing that the investigation team is operating based on the following leads:
1- The bullets used by the perpetrators were of a 12.7 caliber.
2- The two bullets were shot from the bottom up. The first one [hit the wall] five centimeters above Geagea’s head, whereas the second was 10 centimeters away.
3- The two bullets hit the wall about 1.5 meters away from Geagea. The first one became lodged in the woodwork close to the ceiling, whereas the second hit the bulletproof glass. The two bullets ended their trajectories 30 centimeters away from Geagea who was standing, contrary to reports whereby he had bent down to pick up a flower.
4- Geagea’s apparent confusion during his press conference was a result of the shooting and the strong whoosh of the two bullets.
5- Experts and the investigation teams are now certain that the two bullets were punctured from the top and bottom. This method is used to create an airway within each bullet, thus preventing the wind from changing the bullet course.
6- Contrary to rumors whereby Geagea goes through the corridor where the shooting occurred only once a year, it turned out that he uses this open space every day. His security team is currently working on blocking the view in this particular location.
Former PM Fouad Siniora’s absence from the March 14 solidarity meeting [with Geagea] in Maarab is still being deplored, especially as security pretexts were cited to justify it, knowing that former PM Siniora is visiting many locations without paying heed to security reasons.
Furthermore, Geagea had visited former PM Siniora twice immediately after the May 7 events as an expression of solidarity with the Future Movement, without paying heed to the imminent security danger at the time.