Al-Sayyed Clashes with Khalil, Withholds Confidence as Hariri Walks Out
Firebrand lawmaker Jamil al-Sayyed on Tuesday engaged in a verbal dispute with Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil as he addressed Parliament during a session to debate the new government's Policy Statement.
The minister said that “the state's treasury was empty and then it turned out that there were 600 billion liras and that the state did not pay the wheat farmers in the Bekaa,” al-Sayyed said, drawing a swift and angry response from Khalil, who interrupted his speech.
“This is not true,” Khalil shouted. He later repeated his interruption of al-Sayyed several times, especially when the latter mentioned the issue of borrowing money from the social security fund.
Speaker Nabih Berri then intervened and asked Khalil to write his remarks and announce them later.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri had walked out of the session as al-Sayyed began his address before eventually returning.
Al-Sayyed criticized Hariri for walking out, describing him as the “disappeared premier” and noting that “the PM should be present because he is requesting confidence in his government.”
“I want to say that the disappeared premier has appeared,” Hariri told Berri upon his return to the session.
Al-Sayyed had earlier announced that he was withholding confidence from Hariri's government.
“Confidently and with a clear conscience, I say that I will not grant this government my confidence,” the MP said.
“If I find out after several months that this government has served the people, I will grant it my confidence before the media outlets but today I will not grant confidence in advance,” he clarified.
Noting that the new ministers “should submit criminal records,” al-Sayyed accused Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh of “wasting $5.5 billion,” lamenting that “the state today has borrowed billions to ensure continuity.”
Al-Sayyed also called for the rotation of security and judicial posts among sects and said Hariri should “apologize over the four years that the four officers spent in jail,” referring to himself and three other former chiefs of security agencies who were jailed in connection with the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri before being cleared of any charges.