Letter from Lebanese politicians to the Arab Summit stirs controversy, aims to undermine Aoun

Published March 30th, 2017 - 10:10 GMT

Lebanon's Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri Wednesday condemned a letter sent to the Arab Summit by former Lebanese political officials.

"What are the positives in making Lebanon look like this?" Berri asked.

“It’s an unfavorable and unprecedented move. It’s unacceptable,” he was quoted as saying by al-Akhbar newspaper, adding that the letter aims to "discredit" Aoun.

Lebanon's Cabinet has also condemned the controversial letter sent by former presidents and prime ministers to the Arab Summit, local daily Al-Liwa reported Wednesday.

During the Cabinet session on the electricity reform plan in Baabda, chaired by President Michel Aoun, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil was first to bring up the topic of the letter, claiming that it weakens Lebanon's united position at the Arab Summit.

Youth and Sports Minister Mohammad Fneish said that the letter should have been sent to President Aoun himself, rather than the Arab League.

According to the local daily, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk described the letter as a "national sin."

The letter was also sent to President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri.

Al-Liwa reported that President Aoun urged ministers to downplay the letter at the meeting.

Hariri, however, had told the press prior to departing for Amman to attend the Arab Summit that "there is a train in Lebanon that is moving forward. Anyone who wants to get on board is welcome...otherwise let him stay in his place.”

The letter was written by former presidents Michel Sleiman and Amine Gemayel, as well as former prime ministers Fouad Siniora, Tammam Salam, and Najib Mikati.

Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar accused the five former leaders of supporting a foreign agenda with their letter, calling them a "malicious package of five small slaves."

The three-page letter consisted of five key issues: adherence to the Taif Accord; compliance with international obligations, including UN Security Council Resolution 1701; the proliferation of illegal arms in Lebanon; the Baabda Declaration; and means to prevent interference in the Syrian crisis.

Siniora defended the letter, saying "the letter is to boost Lebanon's position and is aimed at pointing out that there are viewpoints which reject silence on illegitimate arms," he told a local TV station, adding that the letter did not aim to discredit Aoun's term as president.

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