(BEIRUT) — Rival Lebanese lawmakers turned an electricity committee meeting into a circus Monday as Mustaqbal Movement and Change and Reform MPs engaged in a shouting match accusing each other of corruption.
Ziad Aswad, from MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform Bloc, and Jamal Jarrah, from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Bloc, nearly brawled on live television before being held back by their colleagues.
The scuffle began when Change and Reform MP Hikmat Deeb protested MP Mohammed Qabbani’s labeling of the Energy Ministry as “Ali Baba’s cave and the 40 advisors,” reported Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5).
This led to a verbal dispute between the lawmakers, triggering expletives and a loud shouting match for several minutes, before journalists and camera crews were asked to leave the room.
The meeting was later suspended and both parties went on the offensive, calling for news conferences to defend their actions.
“The scuffle was a result of historic accumulation of disputes at the committee,” Change and Reform MP Fadi al-Awar told LBCI after the meeting. “Officials and other figures, including Qabbani, who do not pay their electricity bills should be held accountable.”
Qabbani fired back, calling for future committee meetings to be open to the media and defending his party’s response.
“It is shameful to see such barbarism in communication at parliament,” Qabbani said. “I challenge any of those MPs to present any electricity bill that I have not paid.”
Qabbani explained the session was suspended because of the “shameful turn as shown on camera.”
WATCH the scuffle unfold: