Mouawad Contacts Qahwaji: Persistence of Illegitimate Arms Paves Way for Strife

Independence Movement leader Michel Mouawad condemned on Monday the clashes in the southern city of Sidon and the attack against the army, stressing his support for the state.

He said: “The developments in Sidon demonstrate that ignoring the spread of illegitimate arms, regardless of the identity of their sectarian owners, poses a danger to the army, state, stability, and entire Lebanese entity.”

He made his remarks after contacting Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to condole him over the victims of the army during the Sidon unrest.

Mouawad demanded that all sides “grant the army complete cover to defend itself,” rejecting the concept of imposing “security through the appeasement of all powers.”

“The state with its political and military agencies are the sole guarantors of stability and security,” he remarked.

“Any arms outside the legitimacy of the state pose a threat to us all,” he warned.

In addition, he voiced his support to the initiative of Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora, who demanded that an end be made to Hizbullah's armed presence in Sidon, “which is the main reason for the spread of illegitimate arms in the city.”

Clashes broke out on Sunday between the army and supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in the southern city of Sidon.

The military command said the number of troops killed in the fighting rose to 12. There were also more than 50 injuries among the ranks of the soldiers, but it was not clear how many fighters were killed in the unrest.

The clashes erupted when al-Asir's supporters surrounded an army checkpoint in the area, where a vehicle transporting other supporters of the cleric had been stopped.

After the armed men attacked the troops with gunfire, the army fired back.

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