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Harb urges Hezbollah to quit shielding would-be assassin

(Retrieved from the Daily Star on July 20, 2012)

Batroun MP Butros Harb speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, June 7, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: MP Butros Harb urged Hezbollah Friday to cease providing political cover for the suspect involved in the attempt on his life, and affirmed that the March 14 coalition is adamant on boycotting the National Dialogue.

“We are asking Hezbollah to lift its cover from this person who is a high-ranking party member,” Harb told The Daily Star, claiming that the man refused to be interrogated merely because he belonged to the resistance party.

Harb, who survived an assassination attempt earlier this month, also said that he obtained the information about the suspect from the investigation into the attempt on his life.

“If they do not let him be interrogated, that means they’re protecting him,” Harb said of Hezbollah.

Two detonators were found on top of the elevator inside the building housing Harb’s Beirut office on July 5. Police were unable to arrest anyone at the scene.

Batroun lawmaker Harb, a leading figure in the March 14 coalition, was the second politician to be the target of an assassination attempt this year. In April, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said snipers had fired at him but missed while he was outside his Maarab home.

Harb has accused the majority March 8 faction of Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government of providing the plotters with political cover. His accusation springs from the Cabinet’s failure to agree by consensus on transferring telecommunications data needed for the investigation to the security agencies.

The Cabinet decided last week to form a committee, headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to look into demands by security bodies for telecoms data.

Asked whether his statements would raise the level of tension in the country, Harb said he was well aware of the consequences of his words.

As for the March 14 coalition’s announcement that it will boycott National Dialogue sessions, Harb said the decision would be final unless the demands of the party are met.

The March 14 coalition announced its boycott Thursday in protest at Hezbollah's refusal to discuss its arms within the framework of a national defense strategy, as well as the government's failure to provide security agencies with telecommunications data.

“I don’t think that national dialogue is more important than the safety of those who would be sitting at the dialogue table,” Harb said, ruling out the possibility that the dialogue session scheduled for Tuesday would convene.



*The suspect's name is Mahmoud Hayek from Aadchit