Lebanon’s Hezbollah insists on government demand, warns Israel

Supporter of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group listen to a speech of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, via a video link, during a rally marking Hezbollah Martyr's Day, in a southern suburb of Beirut. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2018
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Lebanon’s Hezbollah insists on government demand, warns Israel

  • In a televised speech on Saturday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel that his Iranian-backed group would respond to any attack
  • Hezbollah says one of its Sunni allies must be represented in the government to reflect their election gains

BEIRUT: The leader of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah insisted that one of its Sunni allies be given a portfolio in a new Lebanese cabinet, and indicated it would be ready to go back to square one in negotiating a government if necessary.
In a televised speech on Saturday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also warned Israel that his Iranian-backed group would respond to any attack on Lebanon and urged his country to withstand diplomatic pressure over its rocket arsenal.
Hezbollah’s demand for one of its Sunni allies be given a portfolio in the new Lebanese government is at the heart of a row that has obstructed a final agreement six months since a parliamentary election.
The formation of a new government is necessary before any moves can be made toward fiscal reforms which the International Monetary Fund said in June are needed immediately to improve debt sustainability.
Hezbollah says one of its Sunni allies must be represented in the government to reflect their election gains.
But Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri, who is Lebanon’s main Sunni politician and enjoys Western backing, has ruled out allocating any of his cabinet seats to them.
Lebanon’s political system requires government positions to be allotted along sectarian lines.
Nasrallah said rejecting a Sunni ally from its “March 8” camp amounted to exclusion of a section of Lebanese.
“We were sincere when we spoke of a national unity government. There is no national logic, or moral logic, or legal logic ... for anyone in Lebanon to come out and say ‘it is forbidden for the March 8 Sunnis to be represented in the Lebanese government,” Nasrallah said.
“If it is forbidden, come let’s talk again from the start,” he said, adding: “We don’t want conflict, or tension, or escalation.”
President Michel Aoun vowed earlier on Saturday to find a solution to the problem. Though a political ally of Hezbollah, Aoun has sided with Hariri in the row.
Hezbollah, groups and individuals that support its possession of weapons won more than 70 of the 128 seats in the May 6 parliamentary election.
Hezbollah is proscribed as a terrorist group by the United States. The group last fought a major conflict with Israel in 2006, since when it has grown militarily stronger as a major participant in the Syrian war.
Nasrallah said Israel had recently tried to increase pressure over the group’s rocket arsenal and to create “a state of intimidation and threat that if this matter is not dealt with, it (Israel) will deal with it.” Israel had used “the Americans and even some European states” in this effort, he said.
“I say to Lebanon that it must bear this level of diplomatic pressure,” Nasrallah said. “Any attack on Lebanon, any air strikes on Lebanon or bombardment — we will certainly respond,” he said.


Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court

Updated 44 min 16 sec ago
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Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court

  • Former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were referred to the Supreme Court
  • Five other former ministers were also referred

ALGIERS: An Algerian prosecutor investigating graft allegations has referred two former prime ministers and five former ministers to the supreme court, Ennahar TV reported on Sunday citing a statement from the prosecution.
Mass protests have broken out in Algeria demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people demonstrators regard as corrupt. The seven politicians will be investigated by the court over alleged corruption cases, Ennahar said, without providing details.
They include former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned on April 2 after coming under pressure from protesters and the army.
The list of the former ministers, who are under investigation, includes Amara Benyounes, Abdelakader Zaalane, Amar Ghoul, Karim Djoudi and Abdessalam Bouchouareb.
They were in charge of the sectors of trade, transport, public works, finance and industry respectively.
Their lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
The army is now the most powerful institution after the departure of Bouteflika, who had ruled the North African country since 1999.
Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah has said major corruption cases would be pursued to try to appease the protests that started on Feb.22.
Bouteflika's youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge over "harming the army's authority and plotting against state authority."
At least five prominent businessmen have also been detained pending trial over involvement in corruption cases.
Protesters also want the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Beoui, who are considered as part of the ruling elite that has run the country since independence from France in 1962.