Khoury to Suggest Solution as Aoun Contains Cabinet Clash on Bitar
Justice Minister Henri Khoury is supposed to present “balanced” suggestions to Cabinet on Wednesday on the controversy surrounding Beirut port blast investigator Judge Tarek Bitar, media reports said, after an escalation by Hizbullah and its allies forced the suspension of Tuesday’s Cabinet session.
Wednesday’s session will be held at 4pm in Baabda.
Khoury had noted in Tuesday’s session that the principle of the separation of powers should be respected and that he does not know the details of the investigations.
“President Michel Aoun settled the debate by asking the justice minister to study the issue from its various aspects and to return to Cabinet for an objective discussion according to the legal norms and rules,” the reports said.
Aoun intervened “when he noticed that things could become tense, adjourning the session to today,” the reports added.
“The President said that things cannot be approached in that manner and that they should be addressed according to legal norms and by returning to the Higher Judicial Council and coordinating with the Justice Minister, stressing that there is another approach that contradicts with the one that the session witnessed,” the reports said.
He added: “There are people affected by the blast and victims supported by street protesters, and if there is any inclination to create a counter-movement, this would lead to repercussions and would threaten security and stability in the country.”
Ministerial sources meanwhile said that several ministers “spoke of the importance of preserving stability and respecting the sentiments of the victims’ families.”
Some ministers also noted that “Cabinet can take a political and not an executive stance, because its role is limited to referring the blast file to the Judicial Council or withdrawing the referral,” warning that Cabinet cannot withdraw the referral because it would draw a violent backlash.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati meanwhile downplayed the tensions, according to governmental sources, noting that “things are not deadlocked, especially after the Justice Minister was tasked with following up on the legal and constitutional details.”
The debate erupted in Tuesday’s session after the ministers of Amal Movement and Hizbullah demanded a stance from Cabinet on Bitar and called for removing his from the case over alleged bias.