“The meeting took place at the request of the Republican Palace departments. I thought they wanted me to meet with President Michel Aoun, but they asked me to meet Gebran,” Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said in response to a question about his meeting with the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil, in Rabieh, not Laklouk. I rushed to phone Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the time, and before I could explain the situation in full, he answered “Does Gebran want to meet with you? Go ahead.”
“I do not have the answer,” he answered when asked if it was common for the president’s brother-in-law to meet instead of him. I had never met with President Aoun, nor with his Adviser Salim Jreissaty, or any of his team before, and it’s possible they wanted to get to know me.”
The Minister of the Interior stated several times that he wants “the Ministry of Interior to be an institution inside politics, not politics within the institution,” and that he wants to be a “positive neutrality category.”
“The minister, the ministry, and state staff, numbering around 15,000, would be ready to hold them,” he added of the parliamentary elections. I reached an agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss the issue of non-resident Lebanese voting rights.