Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Sunday renewed his call for the formation of a parliamentary probe committee to investigate the deals made recently with the Nusra Front and ISIS, blaming the presidential vacuum for the ordeal that took place in 2014.
“The presidential vacuum had a negative impact on what happened in 2014 when the servicemen were captured in Arsal. Thr president is the head of the armed forces and his presence was crucial back then,” Gemayel said in an interview on New TV.
“The minutes of Cabinet sessions held in the period following the capture of the servicemen must be disclosed,” he added.
"The government must justify why it relinquished its decision-making power."
Gemayel deemed it as dangerous to see that the state wasn't in charge of the negotiations made with the Nusra Front and ISIS, saying that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made it clear that his party had full control over the negotiations.
“The Lebanese state ended up just consenting to a deal that was sealed by a non-state faction,” he pointed out. “It implemented a deal it did not make, which forces us to question the government's power.”
The Kataeb chief stated that the Army was about to score a decisive victory against ISIS when a certain faction intervened to prevent that, saying that the evident truth is that Hezbollah assumed negotiations with ISIS without being assigned by the Lebanese state to do so.
“The problem is that it is difficult to enforce accountability knowing that the issue involves a non-state faction.”
“Claims that the fate of the servicemen was undetermined throughout their captivity period turned out to be untrue given that some officials said that they knew they were killed two years ago,” he noted.
“We are aware of the suffering that the families of martyr soldiers are going through given that we still have missing detainees in Syria jails,” he said.
"Why did the state remain idle during the latest battle fought against the Nusra Front on the outskirts of Arsal?” Gemayel asked.
He also blamed the government for giving up its duty to defend Lebanon's sovereignty, saying that it did not convene even once to discuss the clashes taking place on the Lebanese border
“The lack of accountability is the reason behind the impasses that the country has been witnessing," he pointed out. “The Judiciary must play its role by enforcing impartial accountability."
Gemayel stressed that all this wouldn't have happened if the Army had monitored and taken control over the eastern border years ago, saying that it is time to believe in the Lebanese Army which proved to be efficient and capable of confronting terrorist groups.
Turning to the taxes issue, the kataeb leader stressed that the Constitutional Council wouldn't have suspended the levies law hadn't the challenge submitted by lawmakers belonging to the Kataeb party and other factions been based on solid grounds.
"I reassure public employees that the salary scale will not be affected by the abrogation of the law."
Gemayel reiterated that the state should have stopped squandering and corruption before imposing taxes, explaining that a sum of LBP 700 billion was earned through exceptional bank profits this year, which can cover a large part of the salary scale that costs LBP 800 billion.
“We will be suggesting taxes that do not affect the poor and middle class,” he said. “Unlike some claimed, the VAT hike affects everything and everyone.”
The kataeb leader affirmed that everyone tried to shrug off responsibility for the taxes law by avoiding the roll-call vote in an audible voice as stipulated by the Constitution, stressing the need to adopt the electronic voting system as citizens have the right to know what each lawmaker votes for.
“How can citizens put their representatives to account if electronic voting is not put into effect?” he asked, noting that Speaker Nabih Berri said that the adoption of electronic voting requires a constitutional amendment.
"Why has Hezbollah backed up the taxes law while MP Fadlallah himself pinpointed the sources of squandering and corruption in public institutions?"
Gemayel stressed that the government must hold the parliamentary by-elections as stipulated by the Constitution, adding that no one has the right to pick what should or should not be implemented in the laws.
“The Constitution is not subject to interpretations,” he said, warning that the failure to hold parliamentary by-elections would be a major constitutional violation.
The Kataeb MP stated that the problem with the current political authority is that it doesn't base its actions on clear studies, saying that an austerity policy should be adopted given the critical economic situation that the country is witnessing.
Gemayel noted that it was normal for him to hold regular meetings with MP Dory Chamoun and former Minister Ashraf Rifi, saying that they gathered to refuse the status quo that is being imposed on the Lebanese.
He stressed that the Kataeb party is open to any political force that is seeking change, saying that it is time to introduce a new political pattern that is based on transparency and independence.
“Our political rivals have nothing to accuse us of; thus, they keep saying that our stances are only aimed at boosting our popularity,” he said. “We have never tackled a subject without presenting valid arguments and watertight evidence.”
“We are not seeking rivalry with any political force. We just want equality and real partnership to be forged between all the Lebanese,” he pointed out.
The Kataeb leader called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to choose whether to stay as false witnesses or to join the opposition ranks and seek change, saying that he doesn’t know the reason why he wasn't invited to attend the Lebanese Forces martyrs mass.
"There were 6,000 Kataeb martyrs before the Lebanese Forces party even existed,” he affirmed.
“We prayed for our martyrs in Tabriyeh where there was no place for politics,” he noted, revealing that he suggest to the Kataeb's politburo that the party officially adopts the annual martyrs mass held in Tabriyeh.
Gemayel warned that it would be an unprecedented corruption scandal to award the power barges tender to the same Turkish company, saying that the government will be exposing its corruption if it adopts the deal which was objected by the Tenders Department.
Asked about the Kataeb's funding campaign launched recently, Gemayel noted that ISupport Lebanon is aimed at keeping the party independent from any political influence that is usually driven by money.