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During an interview late Thursday evening on LBC’s Kalam el-Nass talk show , Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi blasted Prime Minister Najib Mikati accusing him of spreading false allegations that he had taken commissions on the leasing of power-generating ships.

Safadi who is considered Mikati’s number one political ally said:

“[Mikati] did not say this to me, but had whispered this to others . The premier said that he has evidence that I will receive kickbacks on the electricity-generating ships and I say that it needs to be presented to the cabinet and parliament, and an immediate investigation should be launched.”

“He told this to everybody, including Speaker Nabih Berri and [Progressive Socialist Party leader MP] Walid Jumblatt,” Safadi added.

“It didn’t just stop at this,” Safadi went on to say. “Economy Minister Nicolas Nahas came out to say that the finance minister is not concerned about the public money.”

Safadi added: “When [Nahhas], who is known for his association with the premier, says that [I] cannot be entrusted with public funds, then this [is a] catastrophe and an investigation should be launched.”

“ Not even a kid will say this to the media and [Nahhas’] remarks [endanger] the country, not me,” Safadi added calling the accusations ” shameful”.

Safadi also expressed surprise that Mikati believes that he could not run his ministry, saying: “Why did he bring me in the first place?”

Safadi challenged Mikati to fire him “if he can prove I am incompetent and unqualified”.

“I hope an investigation will be launched and if I’m not qualified to manage the ministry then I will face a confidence vote in Cabinet and let them fire me,” he said

Safadi said: “[Mikati’s] aim is to [stop attempts seeking to lease the power generating ships] and this is possible, because [the premier] had promised a particular person that he would achieve this objective.”

However, Safadi added: “My hand is still in Mikati’s hand and I did not accuse [the premier] of wrongdoing or brokering. What we have in common is the desire to preserve civil peace in Lebanon and protect the country from Sunni-Shia strife.”

He added: “I can confirm that Mikati and [Nahhas] wronged me.”

Regarding the killing of Al-Jadeed cameraman Ali Shaaban on Monday, Safadi said that it “was a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.”

“Any murder should be condemned in the cabinet,” Safadi said

Shaaban was killed in the northern Lebanese town of Wadi Khaled by gunfire coming from Syrian territory.

Both Mikati and Safadi were elected by March 14 voters during the 2009 elections and both defected to the Hezbollah led March 8 camp after the cabinet of former PM Saad Hariri collapsed.

Power generation ships

Two foreign companies, Turkish firm KARADENIZ and U.S. WALLER MARINE submitted bids

According to reports the original bids point to cost of $429 million dollars to lease the KARADENIZ vessel, which produces 180 MW, over a period of five years against a cost of $427 million for the same period of time to lease the WALLER MARINE vessel that produces 180 MW. The cost of the leasing does not include the price of the fuel, according to the report.

According to the reports the Turkish company agreed to reduce its offer by 9 % and to reduce the term of the contract from 5 to 2 years. The Turkish company also reportedly pledged not to give commission to any party except its agent in Lebanon.

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