Jumblatt, Hizbollah MP Trade Corruption Accusations
Tension over an alleged diversion of government funds erupted again during Wednesday's budget debate in the Lebanese Parliament, as Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and a Hizbollah MP traded accusations, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
The heated argument reflected friction between Hizbollah and Jumblatt's main ally, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, said the paper.
The house will convene again on Thursday to complete discussions and vote on the budget.
On Tuesday, MPs from the Bekaa submitted a LL300 billion proposal to implement development projects in the region, such as completing the Damascus highway and executing water projects. They said the projects had been approved in previous laws but not implemented.
On Wednesday, MPs from Tripoli and Mount Lebanon submitted similar development proposals for their areas. One was presented by Jumblatt's parliamentary bloc.
MP Ammar Musawi, a Hizbollah official, complained that the profusion of plans lacked seriousness and were designed to get all of the proposals shelved.
He accused the "maestro," referring to Hariri, of prompting MPs to submit the drafts to get them all rejected.
Jumblatt retorted by arguing that development projects required a specific plan and then suggested retrieving the draft submitted by his bloc, according to the paper.
He went on to complain that "it took me three days to obtain a visa to Iran" for a recent visit.
"This is due to sensibilities provoked by issues like the Shabaa Farms," he said, referring to his being quoted a month earlier as saying that the region was not Lebanese.
Jumblatt demanded that the government retrieve money stolen by "security islands" and use it for development projects, the paper quoted him as saying.
Musawi countered by saying: "We know how state money has been stolen," a reference to widespread accusations of squandering at the ministry for the displaced, which Jumblatt used to head.
The MP added that "we have liberated our country with our blood and we won't be given lessons on nationalism." – Albawaba.com
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