BEIRUT: Caretaker Telecoms Minister Charbel Nahhas accused Thursday a branch of the Internal Security Forces of unlawfully preventing him access to facilities linked to the Telecoms Ministry.
Describing the act as a “coup,” Nahhas said some 400 heavily-equipped members from the ISF’s Information Branch have also banned employees from entering the second level of the building attached to the ministry in Adliyeh, east of Beirut.
Nahhas said rooms on the second floor, which contained communications equipment donated to Lebanon, were sealed off since Friday.
“This a coup by the Information Branch,” Nahhas told a news conference at the ministry shortly after the incident which was aired live on a local television station.
“Under the law, this act is considered a mutiny,” Nahhas said, laying the blame on ISF chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi.
He said Rifi had taken a unilateral decision to deny access to ministry employees, adding that caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud had no knowledge of the decision.
Nahhas, a member of Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, also said he was waiting for the withdrawal of the police unit after they had been ordered by Baroud to do so.
Security forces prevented on Thursday caretaker Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas, several directors at the ministry, and a technical team from entering one of the ministry’s buildings at the Adlieh area.
Sources told Naharnet, that the minister and the technical team headed to the building in order to dismantle a mobile phone station belonging to Ogero Telecom.
The station, which was operating under a trial period, was presented as a gift from the Chinese government to Ogero a few months ago.
Ogero Telecom General Director Abdul Monem Youssef had previously informed Nahhas that he has no right to dismantle the station and transfer it to the MTC mobile phone operating company.
Any modification to the donation agreement between Ogero and the Chinese government would require approval by Cabinet, he added.
The telecommunications minister disregarded this fact and insisted on dismantling the station, he said.
Nahhas headed to the building at Adlieh Thursday morning where he was confronted by the security forces who informed him that he may enter the station, but without the technical team, Youssef clarified.
The minister later held a press conference recounting the morning’s developments, describing the practices at the ministry as a “coup”, led by the Internal Security Forces.
He urged the army leadership to suppress the ISF coup, saying that the Intelligence Bureau is refusing to implement caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud’s order to pull security forces out of the ministry building.
Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas said Thursday that Internal Security Forces (ISF) Information Branch personnel have occupied a building owned by the Telecommunications Ministry in the Adliyeh area of Beirut and are mounting a “coup” against the state’s authority.
In a press conference broadcast on OTV, Nahhas said that ISF personnel had taken over the second floor of the building and prevented his ministry’s technical teams from performing routine maintenance work.
Interior Minister Ziad Baroud was not aware of the situation and, once notified by the telecommunications minister, issued an order requiring the personnel to leave the building, Nahhas said.
He said that he visited the building on Thursday morning and encountered “400 armed personnel, military and civilian, with their weapons ready” when he tried to go up to the second floor.
He stated that these units have not left the building and are therefore rebelling against the state, accusing the ISF Directorate-General of defying the Interior Ministry’s orders.