Kataeb Party leader MP Sami Gemayel Friday challenged Hezbollah to submit its arms to President Michel Aoun, saying his election presents an opportunity to fulfill its promise to do so once it had “trust in the state.”
In a televised speech, Gemayel said, “Those who believe they got President Michel Aoun to the presidency, you always said you would submit your arms once you have trust in the state.”
He continued, “And because you have a president you trust, a [near] majority in Parliament and orchestrated the government formation, why don’t you submit your arms now to President Aoun?”
Hezbollah has 13 MPs in the Parliament, who were elected in May 2018, and three ministers in the Cabinet. Along with its allies, the Amal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement headed by Aoun, as well as at least five other pro-Hezbollah MPs, this constitutes some 64 representatives out of the 128 and 17 ministers out of the 30.
Gemayel’s comments came during the launch of the Kataeb Party’s 31st Congress, held at Furn al-Shubbak’s Biel. The meeting of the party’s highest officials took place just days after a heated exchange on the Parliament floor between Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi and Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel.
The exchange began when MPs Sami and Nadim Gemayel questioned Hezbollah’s influence on the Cabinet formation, asking whether the Cabinet was the “government of Hezbollah.”
As proof of Hezbollah’s influence, Nadim Gemayel noted the party’s role in bringing Aoun, who founded the Free Patriotic Movement, to office.
Musawi responded by saying he was proud “Aoun was brought to the presidency by the rifle of Hezbollah and not on the back of an Israeli tank like others.” Musawi was referring to slain former President-elect Bachir Gemayel, Nadim’s father, whose election was enabled by his relations with Israel and the Jewish state’s presence in Beirut.
The remark elicited an outburst from Nadim, who condemned Musawi’s words as shameful. He later participated in a Kataeb-organized rally in Beirut’s Sassine Square to reject the “slander” of Bachir Gemayel.
The Kataeb leader said Friday that the Bachir Gemayel cause annoyed “many people because his project was to eliminate all militias.”
“President Bachir Gemayel is a martyred icon,” he added.