The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called for an immediate halt to “unlawful” military appointments, condemning what it described as attempts to “isolate” the bloc in these designations.
“Their extensions are selective, dangerous and in violation of the defense law and the law regulating the Internal Security Forces,” said the bloc in a statement recited by ex-minister Salim Jreissati after its weekly meeting in Rabieh.
The bloc was referring to Defense Minister Samir Moqbel's decision to “postpone the retirement” of Higher Defense Council chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Kheir and his recent extension of the term of military intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Edmond Fadel.
The bloc has concerns that the mandate of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji might also be extended, a move it categorically rejects, especially amid the protracted failure to elect a new president for the country.
This inclination “fully isolates us as it caters to the interests of the other parties and we will not tolerate it,” Change and Reform added.
“This issue is existential for us, whether others like it or not,” the bloc said, noting that the matter has to do with the entire country, “especially amid these tragic circumstances in the region.”
“The luxury of eliminating us has ended,” it stressed.
“Today we're raising our voices, ahead of raising our fists in the face of those who might contemplate for a single moment to isolate us from our presidency, army, administration, development and real partnership in the national decision,” the bloc warned.
It called on the cabinet, accordingly, to “put an immediate end to this type of dangerous violations” and to “immediately appoint our military and security chiefs.”
“Elimination, under any excuse or alibi, is not anymore on the agenda of our past, present or future,” Change and Reform underlined.
Turning to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's contempt trials against al-Jadeed TV and al-Akhbar newspaper, which will kick off soon, the bloc emphasized that “the freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution and the international charters.”
It noted that contempt lawsuits can only be filed over incidents that happen during trials or that might jeopardize justice or a court's ruling, describing the STL's decision to put legal persons on trial – al-Jadeed and al-Akhbar – as a legal heresy.
“We accepted to give up our judicial sovereignty to serve what they called 'the truth' during the circumstances that you all know, but we won't accept to give up our public and personal freedoms,” Change and Reform added.
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