Miqati ‘Liberates’ Telecom Ministry from ‘Troublemaker’ Nahhas

Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has allegedly accepted to give up his demand to keep Caretaker Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas in his post after being pressured by his allies.

Al-Liwaa daily said that a settlement was reached between Aoun and Premier-designate Najib Miqati who succeeded in “liberating” the telecom ministry from “the grip of troublemaker” Nahhas and allotting the labor portfolio to him instead.

Under the deal, the telecom ministry would be headed by Gaby Layyoun, an Orthodox from Zahle.

According to pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat, several of Aoun’s allies asked him to give up his demand for keeping Nahhas in his post because “Miqati can’t tolerate him.”

Aoun met their requests not only to satisfy his allies but also taking their advice as an excuse to replace Nahhas with Layyoun.

Unlike al-Liwaa, al-Hayat said that the caretaker minister would be allotted the industry ministry or appointed as minister of state. The March 8 forces agreed to this move to shrug off statements that keeping Nahhas away from the new cabinet was a “reward” to Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi.

Nahhas is at loggerheads with Rifi over a dispute on a third GSM network located on the second floor of a building associated with the telecom ministry in Beirut’s Adliyeh area.

The caretaker minister sought last month to dismantle the equipment of the controversial network but the ISF led by Rifi prevented him from entering the second floor.

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