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Michel Aoun held a press conference in Rabieh following the Change and Reform bloc weekly meeting, where he commented on a wide range of topics, including the North Lebanon municipal elections, Hezbollah, and inner-Christian strife between supporters of Samir Geagea and Suleiman Franieh. As always, Aoun pulled no punches.

Aoun expressed solidarity with Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Franjieh over the Dahr al-Ain double murder, attacking Christian rival Samir Geagea by accusing the Lebanese Forces party of having a hand in any problem that arises in Lebanon. Aoun added, “We stress that instilling hatred [in followers] will kill its owners.”

Aoun accused Lebanon’s security forces of collusion, stating, “Despite all the trouble instigated by the Lebanese Forces, so far, there are no arrests. There is collusion between security men and investigation that encourages riots and violence. We don’t want the trouble to continue.”

Aoun demonstrated no interest in uniting his critics with his supporters, proclaiming, “There are people who welcome me in Zahle and there are people who are unhappy. Those who are [unhappy] let them slam their heads on the wall.”

Regarding Hezbollah, Aoun accused Prime Minister Saad Hariri of playing both sides of the debate to gain advantage in elections: “A large portion of the Future Movement and its allies are divided in their stand towards the Resistance’s weapons, which leaves the situation in Lebanon exposed to Israel. Some sides resorted to bringing up the issue of the Resistance’s arms ahead of a new phase of the elections in order to garner the votes of those who are easily influenced. We demand a clear stance from Hariri, putting an end to confusion on the Resistance.”

On his own TV network, Aoun proclaimed that, “No one has the right to question my OTV channel. Weekly questions for OTV officials will not be allowed.”

On the budget, Aoun said, “Lebanon is a robbed, rather than bankrupt, country. Today, we put our hand on real corruption which is manifested in spending from outside the budget framework. There is money spent from outside the budget. We reject this.”

Aoun also commented on the Israeli raid of a humanitarian ship bound for Gaza: “We fear the leniency of the international stance in favor of Israel; and opening the Rafah border crossing is a good thing.”

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