Naharnet

Bassil to Expat Conference: 'No Gods among Us', Hegemony is Unacceptable

Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil decided Friday not to attend a Lebanese expat conference in Abidjan over security concerns related to the latest crisis between him and Speaker Nabih Berri.

Citing security reports, Bassil told the conference via video link that he did not attend the event because he fears “possible acts of sabotage against our conference.”

“What's important is that our conference is being held today in Abidjan without anyone being able to stop it,” the minister added.

“I'm sorry I have not managed to extend the deadline for your registration to enable tens of thousands of you to vote, but they will do so in the next elections,” Bassil went on to say.

Referring to his leaked remarks against Berri which have sparked a political storm in Lebanon, the minister said: “Unfortunately, we sometimes hurt each other's feelings.”

“We are all equal humans and there are no gods among us. It is unacceptable for one of us to practice hegemony against the other, and of course we reject the hegemony of any of us over the law and the constitution,” the FPM chief added.

“Each of us has tried unilateral hegemony against others to no avail. So let no one attempt to practice a new hegemony that is doomed to fail anew,” Bassil warned.

"If I have to apologize to you, forgiveness can only be asked from God. Forgive me if my love for the country is bigger than my love for my family and if my dream to have a strong Lebanon is stronger than my ambition," Bassil went on to say.

In the leaked video that was shot during a closed Batroun meeting, Bassil calls Berri a "thug" and pledges to “break his head.”

The footage drew the ire of Berri's aides and political allies, who lashed out at Bassil, with Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil calling the foreign minister “lowly” and a “political dwarf.”

The video also sparked three days of protests and unrest that reached the extent of encircling the FPM's headquarters in Sin el-Fil's Mirna Chalouhi area and firing gunshots in the air in the town of Hadath, an FPM bastion.

Bassil's Friday speech comes a day after President Michel Aoun held phone talks with Berri in which the two leaders agreed to stop the war of words between their two parties. A reconciliation meeting was also held Friday in Hadath between the FPM and Berri's AMAL Movement. The meeting was attended by lawmakers from Hizbullah, which has reportedly played a key role in containing the confrontation between its two allies.


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