Lebanon’s Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun blamed March 14 for Hezbollah’s expansion of its private telecommunications network and said on Tuesday following his bloc’s weekly meeting that whoever allowed Hezbollah to do that must resolve this issue.
“Whoever allowed Hezbollah to expand its telecommunications network in the 1990s must resolve this issue to prevent similar events to the ones which took place on May 7, 2008,” Aoun said.
He continued: “We are not the ones who established this network. We are not responsible for problems that arose in light of the May 2008 events.”
“What did former Premier Fouad Siniora and then Ministers Marwan Hamadeh and Elias al-Murr do on May 5 and 7, 2008?” he asked.
Gunmen belonging to Hezbollah and its allies occupied Beirut’s western side on May 7, 2008 after the government of then PM Siniora tried to dismantle the group’s telecommunications network.
The May 7 fighting left scores dead and brought the country to the brink of a new civil war.
Tensions were running high in Zahle after members of Hezbollah attempted to expand the party’s telecommunications network in the area on Sunday evening, Voice of Lebanon (100.5) radio reported.
Residents of the city protested the move and temporarily blocked the road in the area.
When asked what the residents of Zahle should do to confront Hezbollah’s actions, Aoun replied: “Let them block roads.”
It noteworthy to mention that Aoun has been a staunch ally of Hezbollah since he signed a MOA with the militant group in 2006
MP Marwan Hamadeh, a key member of the March 14 alliance snapped back at Aoun on Tuesday over remarks related to Hezbollah’s controversial telecom network in Zahle, accusing the ministers loyal to Aoun of employing “Hezbollah cronies” at the Ministry of Telecommunications.
Aoun “protected Hezbollah’s May 2008 coup against the Lebanese government, which tried back then to prevent Hezbollah from installing its illegal telecom network,” Hamadeh said, noting that the party “invaded the capital Beirut and attacked Mount Lebanon” to thwart the government’s efforts.
Hamadeh reminded the FPM leader that former telecom “minister Gebran Bassil was the one who assumed the telecom ministry portfolio after the Doha accord which followed the May coup, and it was him and the minister who succeeded him (Nicolas Sehnaoui) who brought Hezbollah cronies to the heart of the telecom ministry and technically abolished the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.”
The MP, who served as telecom minister in Siniora’s cabinet, hailed “the residents, MPs and dignitaries of Zahle for their steadfastness” and lauded the municipality and residents of the Bekaa town of Tarshish, where a similar confrontation over Hezbollah’s private network had taken place in the past.
Hamadeh called on the military and security institutions to “draw lessons from the vigor of the Lebanese public opinion and prevent any May 7-like coup.”
There was an uproar in October 2011 when Hezbollah also attempted to expand its telecommunications network in the town of Tarshish on the outskirts of Zahle.
The residents thwarted the attempts and Telecommunications Ministry at the time defended that party and denied it was conducting any works in the region.