Consultations to isolate Riad Salameh, without the ability to isolate him

Consultations to isolate Riad Salameh, without the ability to isolate him
Consultations to isolate Riad Salameh, without the ability to isolate him

Beirut – The international arrest warrant issued by the French judiciary against the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, after his delay in attending an investigation session in Paris and some other previous sessions in Beirut with European investigators, raised confusion, confusion and divisions in political circles, starting with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who conducted Talks with the Shiite duo (Amal Movement and Hezbollah) about how to deal with the international arrest warrant, while MPs demanded Salama’s removal and threatened to pursue any government party or enforcement agency that failed to implement the arrest warrant.

And since a French judge issued a decision against Salameh last Tuesday, neither the consultations nor the controversy have subsided in Lebanon, especially with disagreements over the powers of the Mikati government, which does not have the authority to decide as a caretaker authority.

Even before the arrest warrant was issued against Salameh, there were disagreements about who would succeed the Governor of the Banque du Liban, whose term ends soon, and he had previously announced that he would not accept the extension. The Shiite duo also refuses to appoint the government as a replacement for him, whether he steps down voluntarily or his term ends on the one hand, and he also refuses to appoint him to hand over his duties to his first deputy, Wasim Mansourin, in accordance with the requirements of the Monetary and Credit Law.

The Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar, said that, since the issuance of the French arrest warrant against Salameh, Mikati began contacts with Hezbollah and the Amal movement to explore the available options for dealing with the case.

Among the options or proposals is the call for an urgent session of the Council of Ministers to discuss the matter and take the appropriate decision, while the caretaker prime minister found himself in trouble, as he could not ignore the French decision.

The local newspaper stated that Mikati told Nabih Berri, Speaker of Parliament and head of the Amal Movement, that if the ruler did not initiate a request for his removal, the government should search for an alternative formula. He told the Shiite duo, “You have announced that you refuse to have the government appoint a replacement for the ruler, whether he steps down or at the end of his term. Therefore, the solution is to ask him to stop carrying out his duties until the investigation is completed and the matter is handed over to First Deputy Wasim Mansouri according to the Monetary and Credit Law.”

The duo responded by informing Mikati that the matter requires further consultations, while at the same time refusing the government’s appointment of a new governor for the Lebanese Central Bank, on the pretext of not infringing on the powers of the President of the Republic, while Lebanon suffers from a vacancy in the presidential position.

The Shiite duo also has reservations about appointing the Shiite Wassim Mansouri, deputy governor of the bank, to the position, even if temporarily, not to provoke Christians by assuming a Muslim the second Christian position in the state after the position of president of the state.

Hezbollah and Amal also fear that all the accumulations of problems from the previous stage will fall upon Wassim Mansouri, amid fears that Riad Salameh will leave behind him mines in the Banque du Liban.

Lebanon has not yet received an official request for Salama’s arrest, while his lawyers plan to appeal the arrest decision, which could take months. In light of this, Lebanon remains in a state of waiting until the ruler’s term ends in the next few months.

Al-Akhbar quoted well-informed sources as saying, “In light of the consultations, it is likely that the matter will be left until Lebanon officially receives the text of the arrest warrant, rather than waiting to consider the appeal of Salameh’s agents against the French decision, which is expected to take months. According to the sources, the Mikati will not make any position before France’s request to arrest Salama arrives through official channels.

And this comes while Riad Salameh continues his work as if nothing had happened, and he continued yesterday, Wednesday, in his office without any modification to his programs, and issued decisions, including granting work licenses to digital financial companies. He also chaired the weekly meeting of the Central Council and made sure to inform those present that the international arrest warrant issued by the French judiciary “has no legal basis,” according to the same source.

The newspaper quoted its sources as saying that Riad Salameh maintains his calmness, in contrast to the prevailing tension among the managers in his office, especially the director of external operations, Noman Ndour, the director of development and organization, Raja Abu Asali, and the executive director of the financing unit, Wael Hamdan.

She said that these people fear the repercussions of the investigations or the decisions issued by them, and they are the ones who formed his work team for many years.

The “Change” deputies in the Lebanese Parliament issued a statement in which they considered that the arrest warrant against Salameh culminated in “a long course of prosecutions that revealed the way in which the Central Bank was managed over the past three decades, which led to one of the largest banking collapses in modern history.”

In their statement, they called for “the removal of the defendant, Riad Salameh, from his position as quickly as possible, and the application of the provisions of the Monetary and Credit Law regarding the governance’s fate, in order to ensure the performance of the Banque du Liban in light of the current collapse.”

In their statement, they called on the executive authority to “remove all existing obstacles that delay the state’s official claim against the ruler, especially those that are masterfully placed by the Minister of Finance, his political reference, and the prime minister.” They called on the Lebanese judiciary to shoulder its responsibility at the level of prosecutions and prevent the perpetuation of the policy of impunity.

The Representatives of Change vowed to pursue “any attempt by the Lebanese authorities, represented by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior, and the Public Prosecutor of Cassation, to fail to implement the international arrest warrant issued against the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh.”

And they continued, “We will work to form a parliamentary investigation committee to determine the legal responsibilities resulting from what Salameh committed (violations), and to determine the legal responsibilities of all those who cover and support him from among the official officials.”