Lebanon: Crisis between president and police chief over secret telecoms network
The Lebanese police chief is facing legal action over an alleged secret telecoms network after the country's president referred the case to the justice ministry on Monday. According to AFP, President Michel Sleiman asked the justice minister to take the needed steps against General Ashraf Rifi after the latter turned down a request to pull his men from a state-controlled building where the network is based.
"The presidency requests justice minister Ibrahim Najjar take the necessary judicial measures... following the refusal of the head of police to obey a request by the interior minister that the second floor of the telecommunications ministry be vacated," Sleiman's office said in statement.
Hizbullah and its Christian ally, former army commander Michel Aoun, have accused Rifi's police force -- a close associate to caretaker premier Saad Hariri -- of using what would be a state-owned network for their personal ends. State-run telecommunications provider OGERO has said the second floor of its building in Beirut housed staff working on the third network, funded by China.
According to OGERO, the network is still being tested, but Aoun has raised suspicion that the network is already in use by Hariri.