Naharnet

Aoun Says No Concessions Made, Claims to be Part of Resistance Axis against IS and Israel

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has promised to hold accountable corrupt officials if he were elected a president, denying that he has made certain political concessions and stressing that he is part of the resistance axis against jihadists and Israel.

“If I were elected president, I would deploy the accountability system and consolidate judicial inspection,” Aoun told al-Akhbar newspaper in a lengthy interview published on Tuesday.

“I hold everyone accountable on what they say. They all want to change the system,” he said.

Asked about accusations that he has backed down from huge proposals in return for reaching the presidential palace, he said: “This is not true.”

“We propose things to awaken the people and make them a source of discussion. In a democratic system, you cannot clap your hands on your own. I never back down,” he added.

The FPM chief also denied that he has made concessions for his rapprochement with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.

He stressed that reaching the country's top Christian post has never become his ultimate objective.

“It is the means to achieve what we aspire for … The country is moving like a lost ship that needs a compass,” he said.

“We fought to adopt working mechanisms in the ministries that we took charge of. But there were always obstacles,” added Aoun, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

The lawmaker stressed, however, that “no one will be able to paralyze” his work if he reaches Baabda Palace. “Everyone would need my signature.”

Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May 2014.

The rivalry between Aoun and Geagea, two Maronite candidates, is partly to blame for the vacuum in the country's top Christian post.

Asked about his ties with Hizbullah, the FPM leader, said: “The smartest are those who fight outside their land.”

Hizbullah has sent its fighters to Syria to help President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him.

Aoun defended this move by saying “the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front have reached our border and infiltrated our territories.”

The threat of the terrorist groups rose in August last year when they overran the northeastern border town of Arsal and took with them hostages from the Lebanese army and police.

There are fears that the Syrian-based jihadists would carry out another large scale attack after the snow melts in the hills on Lebanon's eastern mountain range where they are handing.

“I am definitely in the axis of the resistance against the IS and Israel,” Aoun told al-Akhbar.

Fighting the IS is a “priority” because “the danger is heading towards us,” he said.


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