Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and prime minister Salim Hoss launched tit-for-tat barrages on Tuesday over a draft bill that calls for merging public institutions in a bid to slash state expenses, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
Hoss accused his predecessor of being an "obsessed" power seeker who is dead set on "political assassination," said the daily.
He said in a statement "the premiership is a position I am entrusted with, and I will not let any biased or obsessed person discredit it."
"To the person who wants to stage my political assassination in the midst of this jungle, let him beware that I will not succumb and will remain standing on my feet, fighting," he added.
Hariri vehemently objected on Monday to a government draft bill, which is currently being debated by the parliament's joint committees, said the daily.
Hariri's parliamentary bloc fired back at Hoss in an item-by-item rebuttal, accusing the prime minister of being "uptight over any views opposing his policies."
The bloc also brushed aside accusations that Hariri was out to insult the premiership.
"The bloc is as dedicated as the premier to protect the premiership and all other seas of power, and it refuses to be dragged into a skirmish over how and who should preserve the integrity of these seats," Hariri's bloc said.
Hoss accused Hariri, who is contesting all of Beirut's three electoral districts with three separate lists, of mounting "a cheap and opportunist" anti-Hoss campaign to score political gains in this summer's parliamentary race, according to the Daily Star.
"Certain parties have launched a fierce campaign against the draft bill to merge ministries, and it is crystal clear this campaign targets me personally," Hoss was quoted as saying. Hariri had argued that the merging of institutions would not cut government expenses because state employees in overlapping positions would not be laid off and would remain on the government's payroll, added the daily.
"When the people put their hand on the truth, this campaign will backfire" on Hariri, said Hoss. The premier also accused Hariri of using his post in office for personal gains. "We never demanded anything, thank God, unlike those who preceded us at the helm," he said, according to the paper - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)