Berri Fears Terrorist Expansion in Eastern Lebanon, Chaos in Tripoliإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Speaker Nabih Berri expressed concern on Saturday over the ongoing attempts by terrorists to overrun towns in the Eastern Mountain Range and to cause chaos in the northern port city of Tripoli.
“If the Lebanese remain united, then they (terrorists) will not be able to achieve much,” Berri said in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper.
Berri's comments come a day after Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji accused the Islamic State group of seeking to ignite civil war in Lebanon and of relying on sleeper cells in the northern district of Akkar and Tripoli.
In an interview with the French daily Le Figaro, Qahwaji said the terrorists were counting on the cells in northern Lebanon and on the backing of some Sunni figures to achieve their objectives.
Concerning the controversial extension of the parliament's tenure, Berri urged lawmakers to assume their “historic responsibility” and prevent the situation in the country from deteriorating amid “the tough circumstances” it is passing through.
He pointed out that al-Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Hariri's decision to boycott the parliamentary polls and the Interior Ministry's failure to prepare for the elections due to the lack of technical potential by the state, compelled the extension of the legislature's tenure.
Hariri had stated on Tuesday after talks in Paris with French President Francois Hollande that the presidential elections should be a priority for Lebanon, revealing that his movement will not participate in the parliamentary polls should they be held in the absence of a president.
“The extension will occur, but the mechanism is being discussed,” the speaker told al-Akhbar.
However, Berri considered that the moment a new head of state is elected and a new electoral law is adopted then the parliamentary elections should be staged.
Some political blocks have been demanding that the parliamentary elections, which are set for November, should be held even if a head of state is not elected.
Others have been demanding that parliament's term be extended for a second time given the vacuum, poor security situation, and dispute over an electoral law.
Poor security and the disagreement over the law forced the extension of parliament's term last year.
Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May.
Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the elections.