Lebanese Parliament Holds Extraordinary Session

Published: Tue 1 Mar 2005 12:15 AM
Lebanese Parliament Holds Extraordinary Session on Hariri's Assassination
Against the backdrop of heightened political tension between loyalists and the opposition in Lebanon, the parliament started today a stormy general session over the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The opposition was expected to submit a censure motion against the government.
MPs observed a one-minute silence in memory of Hariri and then they chanted the national anthem.
Speaker Nabih Berri opened the session and announced the names of the MPs who failed to attend the session namely George Frem, Issam Fares, Kabalan Issam el Khouri and Qaysar Moawad.
Berri stressed that the parliament presents a prosecution against the plotters and perpetrators of the assassination crime of Hariri as well as the attempts on Druze MP Marwan Hmedeh's life and the assassination of minister Elie Hobeika. Berri called on all parties not to make unfounded accusations which risk dividing the Lebanese people and undermining Lebanon's relations with its neighbors.
The speaker also stressed that the secrecy of the investigation must not be targeted and that no tardiness is accepted and that the investigation must not end with predictions.
The second to talk was Premier Omar Karami whose statement touched on the assassination of Hariri and the procedures his government took to face the repercussions of the crime as well as the Taif accord and the relation with Syria. According to Karami, the hand that killed Hariri hit all of Lebanon and led to a dangerous setback and warned against sedition.
The government of Karami insisted on continuing the investigation in an accelerated manner. Other positions taken by the government were related to the political life that according to Karami must go on simultaneously with the investigation.
The prime minister expressed the government's determination to hold elections on schedule. He also renewed his call for a national dialogue to confront the repercussions of the crime to spare the country further dangers and not to be dragged to the outside. In the end of his speech, Karami asked for the confidence of the parliament.
While Karami was speaking, he was interrupted by Opposition MP Walid Ido who was then asked to end his interruption by the speaker. Afterwards, opposition MP Bassem al Sabe'h stood up and describe Karami's speech as a black document. An argument ensued before Speaker Nabih Berri managed to calm things down. The first MP to take the stand to talk was Martyr Hariri's sister Bahiyah.
MP Hariri implied calling for an international committee to investigate the assassination of Martyr Hariri does not diminish the sovereignty of Lebanon. Hariri reiterated that Lebanon will work on implementing the Taif accord as a whole. She also called for the adherence of the Lebanese to unity and not to throw away their rights. She also addressed Arabs and called on them not to lose faith in Lebanon adding that the safety of the Arab world is from the safety of Lebanon.
MP Bahiyah Hariri finally called to topple the government. Following Hariri were MPs Mikhael Daher, Robert Ghanem and Marwan Hmedeh. Hmedeh criticized the government, security bodies and what he called the imposed extension of President Emile Lahoud's term. There are more than 40 MPs who registered their names to have a say in the session, and then the government will have to respond to the MPs questions. This process could take several hours and maybe days before a vote is taken to give the government confidence or topple it.

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