Rifi Compares Aoun to Nero


Lebanese Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi slammed Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun, accusing him of seeking to suspend cabinet sessions and “the interests of the Lebanese.”

“We will ask Prime Minister Tammam Salam to convene the cabinet, seeing as (the representation of all sects) is guaranteed and the country’s circumstances cannot withstand a suspension of cabinet sessions,” said Rifi in an interview with al-Liwaa newspaper to be published Monday.

“The Constitution gives the PM the jurisdiction to set the date of cabinet sessions and their agendas, and PM Salam must not give up his powers,” Rifi added.

Aoun is reportedly seeking a settlement before easing the government’s deadlock.

“Michel Aoun’s behavior must stop and he must not be given a chance to paralyze the interests of the Lebanese. Just like Nero, Aoun is willing to burn the country for the sake of his interests and the interests of his family,” Rifi charged.

Nero was Roman emperor from 54 to 68. In 64 AD, most of Rome was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome, which many Romans believed Nero himself had started in order to clear land for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea.

“Let’s not forget that he blocked the formation of the cabinet for seven months to appoint his son-in-law Gebran Bassil as minister,” Rifi added.

“Michel Aoun did not paralyze the cabinet and did not threaten to resort to street protests when his (Shiite) allies usurped the post of General Security director. We did not see him lamenting the rights of Christians back then,” the minister went on to say.

Rifi was responding to Aoun’s warning against a possible extension of the term of the army chief, accusing some parties of practicing dictatorship.

“We will not sit idly by over the manipulation of the law with regards to the military,” Aoun was quoted as saying

“The extension of the terms of the army chief and the heads of military intelligence and Internal Security Forces is illegitimate. This harms the morale of the officers,” Aoun said.

Aoun has been lobbying for political consensus on the appointment of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, his son-in-law, as army chief.