Report: Cabinet Meeting Delayed 'Until Bassil Makes Apology' over Berri Remarks

In light of the latest political tension between Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil over the latter's comments about the Speaker, Prime Minister Saad Hariri has postponed this week's government meeting until the atmospheres “calm down” between the two, media reports said on Wednesday.

Al-Joumhouria daily quoted well-informed sources who said the Cabinet will not convene this week “due to Hariri's visit to Turkey,” that he began on Tuesday. “But, the real reasons are the prime minister's reluctance to call the meeting, waiting to address the emerging crisis between AMAL Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement.”

Meanwhile al-Akhbar daily quoted sources close to Berri who denounced Bassil's remarks describing them as an “insult”.

“Berri is not only chief of AMAL party, he is also the parliament head and therefore insulting him means insulting the entire lawmakers. The least that can be done is an apology,” on Bassil's part, they said.

“The Prime Minister gave an “anesthetic dose” by postponing the government session until he returns from Turkey. But certainly there will be no Cabinet meeting before an apology,” added the sources.

A video emerged Sunday night showing the foreign minister calling parliament speaker a "thug" in a closed meeting.

The leaked video comes amid an escalating dispute between President Michel Aoun and Berri over a decree that promoted a number of Lebanese army officers.

Bassil, is Aoun's son-in-law and heads his Free Patriotic Movement party. The footage drew the ire of Berri's political allies, who lashed out at Bassil. Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil described Bassil in a tweet as "lowly" and a "political dwarf."

The video triggered protests Monday in some areas of Beirut. Some supporters of Berri set fire to tires and to pictures of Aoun and Bassil, shouting slogans against the foreign minister.

Hizbullah, an ally of Aoun but also traditionally an ally of Berri's Shiite AMAL movement, issued a statement categorically rejecting Bassil's statements. Such statements "do not build a state ... but create more crises and disunity," it said.

Hariri said "Lebanon does not need more escalation" and that he would exert all efforts to calm the political rhetoric in the country.

Lebanese politics is still dominated by the same factions that fought one another in the 1975-1990 civil war.

Source: Naharnet, Associated Press

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