Resigned Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi stressed on Wednesday that that neither Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun nor Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh will be elected as president, citing “information” he has obtained during an interview with MTV
Commenting on his recent resignation , he stressed that he will not reverse his decision on resigning from Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government.
“I insist on my resignation and I will not reverse my decision because I no longer belong to the current government,” said Rifi .
The minister had submitted his resignation in protest at the government’s procrastination in referring the case of ex-minister Michel Samaha to the Judicial Council and at Hezbollah’s verbal attacks against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Rifi accused Hezbollah of blocking his efforts to transfer the case against Samaha to the Judicial Council – Lebanon’s highest court – after the Military Court issued a controversial ruling to release him on bail during a retrial. The ex-minister was later sentenced to 13 years in prison with hard labor.
Samaha was arrested in August 2012 and charged with attempting to carry out terrorist acts in cooperation with Syrian security services chief Ali Mamluk . Samaha transported explosives in his personal car and planned attacks and assassinations of political and religious figures in Lebanon.
Rifi resumed his duties as justice minister in mid-March by signing the ministry’s mail and following up on its files.
According to legal experts, the acceptance of Rifi’s resignation requires a decree signed by the president of the republic in addition to the PM’s approval, the thing that is not possible amid the current presidential vacuum.
commenting on the presidential candidates , Rifi floated the idea that the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon could summon Franjieh, “at least as a witness.”
“Franjieh bears at least moral responsibility seeing as ex-PM Rafik Hariri was assassinated during his tenure as interior minister” in 2005, Rifi told MTV.
Former PM Saad Hariri, the leader of the Future movement that nominated Rifi for the justice ministry, launched late in 2015 a proposal to nominate Franjieh for the presidency but his suggestion was rejected by the country’s main Christian parties as well as Hezbollah.