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PORT INVESTIGATION

Aoun: Parliament will decide soon on the prerogatives of Judge Tarek Bitar

Aoun: Parliament will decide soon on the prerogatives of Judge Tarek Bitar

Lebanese President Michel Aoun delivering a speech at Baabda Palace on Nov. 21, 2021. (Credit: Dalati and Nohra)

President Michel Aoun said that the Parliament should soon decide on the issue of the prerogatives of Tarek Bitar, the investigating judge in charge of the probe into the Aug. 4, 2020 tragedy, which should eventually unblock the government crisis, in an interview Sunday with the Qatari press.

The Lebanese Parliament "can decide" on the issue related to Bitar's perogatives, Aoun told the newspaper al-Sharq, a few days after his return from an official visit to Doha. He admitted that the matter is likely to cause "differences of opinion" in the parliamentary session, but that "the majority will decide, and we will have to comply with the decision of this majority," confirming that such a meeting will take place "soon."

"Either the majority will decide that the investigating judge has the right to prosecute" the politicians currently being prosecuted, or "the prerogatives regarding the trial of ministers, deputies and officials will be limited" to the Supreme Council, he said. He said that once the decision is taken by the Parliament, the government and state institutions can resume their work normally.

The Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, has called a parliamentary session on Tuesday. While, officially, this meeting aims to study and adopt a series of pending bills, the timing of its convening suggests that it will also be an opportunity to deal with the case of the port investigation.

For several days, sources have been reporting a comprehensive agreement between Berri and the Free Patriotic Movement, with the mediation of Hezbollah, providing for the holding of a parliamentary session to discuss the possibility of referring the political figures prosecuted by Bitar to the Supreme Council responsible for judging presidents and ministers, in return for the acceptance of the appeal to invalidate the amendments to the electoral law presented by the FPM before the Constitutional Council.

The timing of this meeting follows immediately, moreover, the resignation Friday of the Minister of Information George Kudahi, whose controversial statements had caused a diplomatic crisis with the Gulf countries. This resignation had, until then, been refused by Hezbollah.

Visit of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs

The head of state also stressed that the upcoming visit of the head of Qatari diplomacy in Beirut, agreed upon during his talks in Doha, will address "political, economic and investment-related issues. "All possible infrastructure projects will be offered to Qatari investors," he said.

During Aoun's visit to Qatar, Emir Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad al-Thani said that his country was "ready to help Beirut, in all areas related to the recovery of Lebanon" and that Doha could "contribute to investments in Lebanon, after the adoption of the laws" related to financial assistance, demanded for years by the international community, especially in the areas of public procurement management, transparency and the fight against corruption.

This article originally appeared in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.


President Michel Aoun said that the Parliament should soon decide on the issue of the prerogatives of Tarek Bitar, the investigating judge in charge of the probe into the Aug. 4, 2020 tragedy, which should eventually unblock the government crisis, in an interview Sunday with the Qatari press.The Lebanese Parliament "can decide" on the issue related to Bitar's perogatives, Aoun told the newspaper...