Lebanon’s justice minister says he is resigning over what he calls Hezbollah’s “domination” of the country’s government. Ashraf Rifi’s announcement on Sunday came two days after Saudi Arabia announced it was suspending $3bn in aid to Lebanon’s army in protest against “hostile” positions it said were inspired by Hezbollah.
“There is an armed party that is dominating the government’s decision,” Rifi, a fierce opponent of Hezbollah, said in a statement, referring to the Shia group, which is represented in Lebanon’s parliament but also maintains a powerful military wing. “Hezbollah has used this government to consolidate its project of a mini-state. It wanted to use it as a tool to extend its control over the state and its decisions,” AFP news agency reported Rifi as saying.
“I will not accept becoming false witness and covering for those trying to dominate the state and its institutions … that is why I am presenting my resignation.” Hezbollah’s media channel Al Manar reported that Judge Alisse Shebtini was assigned the post of acting justice minister.
Rifi accused Hezbollah of being responsible for the political crisis in Lebanon that has left the country without a president for the last 21 months. He also said the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was “destroying Lebanon’s relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.