Aoun: Expansion of Hizbullah Network in Zahle Must Be Resolved to Avert Another 'May 7'

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun stated on Tuesday that Hizbullah's expansion of its telecommunications network can be attributed to the failure to address this issue back in 2008 when this case first arose.

He said after the Change and Reform bloc's weekly meeting: “Whoever allowed Hizbullah to expand its telecommunications network in the Bekaa town of Zahle must resolve this issue to prevent unrest similar to that of May 7, 2008.”

“What did former Premier Fouad Saniora and then Ministers Marwan Hamadeh and Elias al-Murr do on May 5 and 7, 2008?” he asked.

“We did not allow the establishment of this network and I cannot resolve problems that emerged in the 1990s,” he declared.

Asked what the residents of Zahle should do to confront Hizbullah's actions, Aoun replied: “Let them block roads.”

Commenting on stalled efforts to exploit Lebanon's offshore oil and gas wealth, he remarked: “It seems that there is a conspiracy to prevent the country from exploiting this wealth.

“We all know who is responsible for calling the government to convene,” he added.

“It would be a disaster if we fail to exploit our oil wealth. It would be a shame if this wealth is not exploited due to some official's negligence,” the MP noted.

Gunmen belonging to Hizbullah and its allies swept through Beirut’s neighborhoods on May 7, 2008 after the government of then PM Saniora tried to dismantle the group's telecommunications network.

The fighting that left scores dead brought the country to the brink of a new civil war.

Tensions were running high in Zahle after members of Hizbullah attempted to expand the party's telecommunications network in the area on Sunday evening.

Residents of the city protested the move and temporarily blocked the road in the area.

The army soon intervened and set up checkpoints in the industrial zone and security forces deployed patrols in the city, which led to Hizbullah's withdrawal from the area.

There was an uproar in October 2011 when Hizbullah allegedly attempted to expand its telecommunications network in the Tarshish region on the outskirts of Zahle.

The residents thwarted the attempts and Telecommunications Ministry at the time denied any party actions in the region.

Source: Naharnet

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