Lebanon to boost army presence on border with Syria

The Cabinet met on Monday and approved a plan to boost the presence of the Lebanese Army along the northern border with Syria and recommended expanding an investigation into the May killing by the army of Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahed a prominent anti-Assad cleric and his bodyguard Mohammad Hussein al-Mereb.

The decision comes after reports of repeated Syrian incursions into Lebanese territories . Last week Syrian shelling killed two Lebanese in the Wadi Khaled border region .

Information Minister Walid Daouk told reporters at the end of the session that the Cabinet decided to “task the justice minister with asking the general prosecutor to directly supervise the investigations

A delegation of Akkar MPs met on Monday with President Michel Suleiman at the Baabda palace and asked him to refer the case of the killing of the Sunni cleric and his bodyguard to the Judicial Council . They had threatened civil disobedience, including sit-ins near the Grand Serail and Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s residence, if no action is taken in this regard.

Akkar MP Khaled Daher described the Cabinet’s decisions as positive. “But we prefer that the case be referred to the Justice Council,” Daher told the Future TV.

Daher also said that deploying the Army on the northern border with Syria has been demanded by the people and MPs of Akkar and is a national duty.

Commenting on the release of 11 of the 16 army suspects in the killing of the cleric President Michel Suleiman told the cabinet that the officers and soldiers were released on bail because the period of their precautionary detention had expired before the release of the indictment.

The president said that the Army personnel could be summoned again to continue investigation, adding that the Cabinet should decide whether to refer the case to the Judicial Council.

The Cabinet also decided to form a committee to be headed by Mikati to look into demands for telecommunications data that is considered essential for investigating assassination plots.

This comes after last week’s attempted assassination of MP Butros Harb. The Telecommunications Ministry reportedly refused to provide the data necessary for security bodies to uncover the plot.

Commenting on lapses in security in the country, Suleiman said that all Lebanese should cooperate to restore calm and “come up with solutions because no one wants to change the political system.”

Other issues

– Suleiman told the cabinet that he is traveling to France Thursday for a one-day visit to hold talks with France’s newly elected President Francois Hollande.

– Suleiman held a meeting with Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi prior to the Cabinet session.

– Mikati held separate meetings with Qortbawi and Kahwagi prior to the Cabinet session.

– The Cabinet also approved a plan to construct a tunnel in Jal al-Dib to replace a dismantled bridge.

The decision comes after Metn residents threatened to block Jal al-Dib’s main highway connecting Beirut and Jounieh Tuesday in a sit-in to protest against the government’s failure to agree to replace the dismantled bridge.

Organizers cancelled the protest and residents of the area engaged in celebrations following the cabinet’s decision

– Mikati’s Cabinet is set to meet Tuesday morning to study the 2012 draft budget and make appointments in the diplomatic corps following an agreement on distribution of the posts

According to the agreement, three Maronite ambassadors will be appointed. They are Khalil Karam, who represents Suleiman, Antonio Andari, who represents Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and a third who represents Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh. Mostafa Adib, the director of Mikati’s office, will become an ambassador as well.

Daily Star