Hariri to Aoun: New President Essential to Appoint Army Chief

AL-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri reportedly informed Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun that he rejects the appointment of a new army commander ahead of the election of a new head of state.

Sources revealed in comments published in An Nahar newspaper Friday that Hariri's envoy told Aoun that he doesn't object to the appointment of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz as army chief.

However, Hariri stressed that ending the presidential vacuum is a must to appoint a new army commander as “the new head of state, whoever he was, has to have an opinion on the matter.”

Conflicting reports emerged recently on whether Hariri agreed on the appointment of Roukoz as army chief.

The reports had said that Hariri informed Aoun about his consent on the appointment of Roukoz as military chief in return for the appointment of head of the Internal Security Force Information Branch Imad Othman as ISF chief.

Aoun has allegedly been seeking to receive political consensus on the appointment of Roukoz as army chief as part of a package for the appointment of other top security officers, but Aoun scrapped such reports.

Roukoz's tenure ends in October while the term of army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji expires at the end of September.

The military posts in Lebanon are suffering as the result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman whose tenure ended in May last year. The vacuum also threatens Internal Security Forces as chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous is set to retire in June.



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