FPM denies Franjieh claims about 'Bassil role in port deal'
The Free Patriotic Movement on Thursday stressed that its chief Jebran Bassil does not have “any role or link to the Beirut port deal,” denying accusations in this regard by Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh.
“How can this happen in a ministry and file that the FPM has nothing to do with at all, and accordingly what can be hoped from a presidential candidate who launches false accusations against his political rivals other than his reinforcement of the impunity policy?” the FPM said in a statement.
MP Ghassan Atallah of the FPM for his part called on Franjieh to present “documents” to “confirm Jebran Bassil’s ties to the port.”
In an interview on al-Jadeed TV overnight, Franjieh had alleged that “the Beirut port deal was made with Jebran Bassil and not with Hezbollah.”
French shipping giant CMA CGM in February 2022 won a 10-year contract to run the container terminal at Beirut port, caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who is loyal to Hezbollah, said.
The contract will provide cash-strapped Lebanon "tens of millions of dollars" every year, Hamieh said, adding that authorities chose the French company over its UAE-based competitor Gulftainer because it offered a better rate and more favorable conditions.
The company's French-Lebanese CEO Rodolphe Saade said his firm was looking to develop a "high-performance" container terminal that could renew Lebanon's trade ties. Saade had visited Beirut with French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the catastrophic 2020 blast at the port, offering a plan to reconstruct the entire facility in less than three years.
His company, which manages several investment portfolios in Lebanon, also operates the container terminal at the Tripoli port, the country's second largest.