Naharnet

ISF Hands Over to Army 2nd Flr of Adlieh Telecom Ministry Bldg

An agreement was reached Friday between the army and the Internal Security Forces under which the army became in charge of the second floor of the telecom ministry building in al-Adlieh district, state-run National News Agency reported.

“Consequently, the (OGERO Telecom mobile phone station) installations located on the floor have become in the army’s custody,” NNA added.

However, the ISF Intelligence Bureau personnel will remain deployed on the sixth and seventh floors of the building, according to NNA.

“Since Friday morning, President Michel Suleiman had been following up on the issue of the ISF evacuating the telecom ministry building and the army becoming in charge of protecting the site, in line with the (caretaker) interior minister’s resolution,” NNA said.

Suleiman stressed that the behavior of the ISF personnel inside the building would be probed “in order to take the appropriate measures aimed at penalizing the violators and preventing the recurrence of what happened” on Thursday at the building.

On Thursday, the Internal Security Forces prevented caretaker Telecom Minister Charbel Nahhas, several directors at the ministry and a technical team from entering the building.

The minister and the technical team headed to the building in order to dismantle a mobile phone station belonging to OGERO Telecom.

The station, which is operating under a trial period, included equipment that was donated by the Chinese government to OGERO.

OGERO Telecom General Director Abdul Monem Youssef had previously informed Nahhas that he has no right to dismantle the station and transfer it to the MTC mobile phone operating company.

Any modification to the donation agreement between OGERO and the Chinese government would require approval by Cabinet, Youssef said.

The telecommunications minister disregarded this fact and insisted on dismantling the station, he added.

Nahhas headed to the building in Adlieh Thursday morning where he was confronted by the security forces who informed him that he may enter the station, but without the technical team, Youssef clarified.

The minister later described the practices at the ministry as a “coup” led by the Internal Security Forces.

He urged the Army Command to suppress the alleged ISF "coup," saying that the Intelligence Bureau was refusing to implement caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud’s order to withdraw ISF personnel from the ministry building.

Suleiman had reportedly ordered ISF chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi to pull his men out of the building.

Sources close to Suleiman told several Beirut dailies published Friday that after the president studied the issue legally and constitutionally, he told Rifi to abide by Baroud’s order to pull his forces out of the building in Beirut’s al-Adlieh area.

“A director-general should comply with the decisions” of Baroud “who is the man in charge of the ministry,” they said.

Baroud absolved himself from his duties on Thursday after the ISF led by Rifi failed to carry out his orders to withdraw from the facility and allow access to Nahhas.

Suleiman holds onto the law and the authority of the minister on issues linked to state-run authorities and institutions, the Baabda palace sources said.


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