Lebanon leaders trade charges

Hezbollah says its "patience has reached its limit" after Druze leader's criticisms.

    The angry words came ahead of a rally to remember assassinated former PM Rafiq al-Hariri [AFP]
    "We have to warn about the moment we make our decision. If we decide to go to the street, we will not be deterred by snipers, or traitors, or hired killers."

    Message to March 14

    Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros in Beirut, said that Hezbollah were not calling for street action, but sending out a message to Jumblatt and the March 14 ruling coalition not to cross the line.

    "What they [Hezbollah] are doing is being very careful. It's volatile; it's fragile and people are very angry," she said.

    "Hezbollah described March 14 as ants that were going to be crushed by lion, [but] this was Hezbollah trying to belittle what Jumblatt said, not escalating the situation."

    Throwing a rare direct challenge to Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, Jumblatt had said on Sunday: "If you want chaos, we welcome chaos. If you want war, we welcome one."

    Assassinations, the arming of militia groups and a continued vacuum in the presidency would "drag all to anarchy", he said.

    Lebanon's political system is deadlocked over the election of a new president despite the two rival sides agreeing on General Michel Suleiman, the head of the Lebanese army.

    His appointment has been held up by a dispute over the make-up of a new government and the parliamentary vote to confirm it was postponed on Saturday for the 14th time.

    Angry exchange

    The angry exchange of rhetoric came just days before a mass rally planned on Thursday for the third anniversary of the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

    Jumblatt heads the PSP, a member of
    Lebanon's governing March 14 coalition

    After Jumblatt's statement on Sunday, at least two people were injured when shots were fired as a convoy of supporters of Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party [PSP] drove past the headquarters of the rival Lebanese Democratic Party in Aley, a security official told the AFP news agency. 

    "Shots were heard and a passer-by was wounded by a stray bullet," the official said. A girl who was travelling in the convoy was also slightly injured.

    However, a statement from the Democratic Party said its building had come under fire from PSP "militia members". It warned that the incident could spark unrest among the Druze population and said Jumblatt would be held responsible.

    The Lebanese Democratic Party is a part of the opposition March 8 alliance that includes Hezbollah.

    Shots were also fired during an altercation between supporters of parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri, the son of the assassinated prime minister, and the security services of Nabih Berri, the parliamentary speaker.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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