March 14 general-secretariat on Wednesday “strongly condemned” four caretaker ministers for refusing to cooperate with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) prosecutor Daniel Bellemare in providing information and documents.
If caretaker Ministers Charbel Nahhas, Gebran Bassil, Ziad Baroud and Ghazi Aridi remain adamant in not cooperating with Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, they and their party backers would have to face the Lebanese public which is calling for holding accountable ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassins, said the general-secretariat following its weekly meeting.
Nahhas and Bassil represent MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement in the outgoing cabinet , while Baroud represents president Michel Suleiman and Aridi represents MP Walid Jumblatt a former staunch supporter of STL who defected last January to March 8 alliance during the selection of a new prime minister.
Their “behavior” would also “put Lebanon in a dangerous confrontation with the international community,” the statement said.
Turning to Hezbollah’s arms, the conferees vowed to continue their struggle against the “hegemony” imposed by the Shiite party’s weapons which they said are “terrorizing the people to change the status quo.”
This was a possible reference to the alleged Hezbollah threats against MP Walid Jumblatt and his PSP parliament members that forced them to switch allegiance to Hezbollah’s PM candidate.
The March 14 general-secretariat also urged the alliance’s supporters to participate en masse in the sixth anniversary of the Cedar Revolution.
The rally should “transform the occasion into a new referendum on the peaceful choices of the Lebanese to confront the arms with stances and freedom of opinion,” the statement said.
Nahas told AFP on Wednesday that STL had sought documents relating to the phone records of Lebanese citizens in the past seven years.
He said he had ignored several requests because they “were contrary to Lebanese law as concerns the secrecy of phone records and immunity given to deputies and presidents”.
Nahas said he had transferred the STL request to the council of ministers, which cannot convene given that it is an outgoing cabinet.
Asked whether the cooperation protocol between the STL and Lebanon does not include him, Nahhas replied: “There is a protocol, as well as laws and the constitution and we are responsible for applying the laws.”
“The cooperation protocol does not eliminate everything, and when affairs require clarifications, they should be sent to Cabinet,” he added
Nahas also said that Saad Hariri had sent him two letters in recent weeks asking him to cooperate with the court and reminding him of Lebanon’s commitment to cooperate with the probe concerning the 2005 assassination.
Nahhas had reportedly told Speaker Nabih Berri that he had stopped meeting the demands of the U.N. commission investigating Hariri’s assassination since last year’s speech by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in which he called on the Lebanese government and officials to boycott the STL and not cooperate with the commission.
The Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah brought down PM Saad Hariri’s government on January 12 over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s imminent indictment which is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri in 2005 .
Nagib Mikati, who was backed by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies including MP Walid Jumblatt and Mohammad Safadi, was appointed on January 25 by president Michel Suleiman as PM-designate to form and head the next cabinet , giving Hezbollah and its allies increased leverage in the country and provoking widespread protest.
Mikati has yet named his cabinet members . Aoun is reportedly the main obstacle facing Mikati specially because he is refusing to allow president Suleiman to have any share in the cabinet