Miqati: Mawlawi Not Arrested over Syria, Detainees Ruling to be Issued Soon

Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 23:18
Prime Minister Najib Miqati on Tuesday announced that calm has been restored in the northern city of Tripoli following a ceasefire, noting that the army took the necessary precautions to preserve the truce and that it had deployed in four hotspots.

''Hostilities have ceased in Tripoli,'' Miqati told reporters in a press briefing held in Beirut, adding that ''the past 48 hours have been difficult.''

Miqati said he had met political officials and Islamist leaders to discuss the crisis. ''We reached an understanding on a number of issues,'' including a ceasefire, he added.

Miqati said that ''a peaceful, unarmed sit-in is still going on in Tripoli,'' by protesters demanding the release of Islamist detainees, including Shadi al-Mawlawi whose arrest had sparked the latest unrest.

''But protesters are not allowed to carry weapons, or to provoke insecurity,'' Miqati stressed.

The decision to deploy the army was taken following discussions with Tripoli officials.

Miqati said he was informed “by the justice minister that the ruling of the state prosecutor in the Islamist detainees case has been finalized and it will be issued soon.”

“Upon the issuance of this ruling, some detainees will be released, because any charges against them will require a jail term that is shorter than the period they have underwent so far,” Miqati added.

Army troops deployed on Tuesday in sectors of Tripoli affected by clashes, in a bid to calm the northern city after three days of sectarian fighting that killed nine people and wounded dozens.

Troops entered Syria Street, the frontline of fighting between the majority Sunni Muslim district of Bab al-Tabbaneh, and Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are mostly Alawite, at around 6:00 am.

Battles first erupted on Saturday between residents of the rival neighborhoods when General Security agents arrested Shadi al-Mawlawi, a Salafist, on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. Mawlawi's supporters say he was targeted because of his help for Syrian refugees fleeing to Lebanon.

But Miqati denied that Mawlawi was arrested because of “the Syrian factor,” noting that “the situations in Syria definitely have an impact on Lebanon … and any scenario in Syria will have repercussions on Lebanon.”

“That’s why we’re trying to prevent any negative impact and Lebanon’s interest is our aim,” he added.

“The manner in which Shadi al-Mawlawi was arrested was unusual, inappropriate and unacceptable, and if there had been a judicial order to arrest him, he could’ve been arrested in another manner, not in the office of a minister and lawmaker,” Miqati said.

He stressed that the judiciary would have the final say over whether Mawlawi is guilty or not.

“There are Arab revolutions demanding justice, law and democracy, but we must not forget that our main continuous revolution is to preserve the Lebanese state and its entity, and this will go on despite all the current circumstances,” Miqati said, adding that “we are aiding the aggrieved, but not at the expense of justice, and helping the oppressed, but not at the expense of security and the state’s prestige.”

Separately, he reaffirmed his “solid relation” Speaker Nabih Berri, adding that he was confident the parliament speaker wanted the government to succeed.

Addressing the issue of the 2013 parliamentary elections, Miqati said “it is currently impossible to implement proportional representation in a full manner,” noting that “there might be a law that combines between the majority and proportional representation systems.”

The premier also confirmed that he will run in the legislative elections.
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