Rifi: Hariri Reconciliation a Barricade against Those Targeting Our Sect
Firebrand Major General Ashraf Rifi, who served as justice minister and Internal Security Forces chief, on Thursday said that his recent reconciliation with Prime Minister Saad Hariri is aimed at “repelling” those who are “targeting” the Sunni community.
“Together we made a big step to turn the page on fragmentation and disputes and I'm fully confident that this reconciliation is in the interest of our cause and objectives regarding independence, sovereignty and the state of institutions,” Rifi said at a press conference to officially announce his withdrawal from Tripoli's parliamentary by-election.
“It is also clearly a firm barricade that will repel those targeting our sect with the corruption accusation after they had accused it of terrorism,” Rifi added about his reconciliation with Hariri.
Rifi and Hariri had met Tuesday at ex-PM Fouad Saniora's resident in Beirut after which the major general announced that he would withdraw from the race in Tripoli and instead back Hariri's candidate Dima Jamali.
Jamali's membership of the 2018 parliament had been recently revoked by the Constitutional Council over vote rigging suspicions.
“To Sheikh Saad Hariri I say: today my hand is extended and our relation is now built on further frankness, and in the name of this reconciliation and the vast majority who were pleased by it, I will stand by you in the face of what is targeting you, in defense of the state, the constitution, the Taef Accord and coexistence, and to preserve our Lebanese and Arab community which is an essential component of this country,” Rifi added on Thursday.
He also noted that he had disagreed with Hariri over “the concessions in the face of the illegitimate arms as long as these arms continued to take over the state and its institutions.”
Referring to the latest controversy over the issue of the “missing” $11 billion and the war of words between Saniora and Hizbullah, Rifi said: “Those who respect the judiciary must hand over those accused of assassinating Rafik Hariri and those accused of the attempt on (ex-)MP Butros Harb's life.”
“Those who respect the judiciary do not establish the Resistance Brigades militia which comprises ex-felons and fugitives and those who respect the judiciary must hand over the killers of the martyr Samer Hanna,” he added.
Accusing Hizbullah of other corruption-related practices, Rifi went on to say: “Hizbullah would be mistaken if it thinks that it can confront us one by one, seeing as we become one man when storms arise.”