Arslan Calls for Referendum on Army’s Role

Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan called on Saturday for a referendum on the army’s role in Lebanon following severe criticism by the March 14 opposition.

The exceptional referendum should be “on the preservation of the army as the defender of the nation and the citizens” and should lead to a “positive shock,” Arslan said in a press conference.

“The campaign against the army has no excuse,” he said, calling on the case of the killing of Sunni Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed and his companion at the Kweikhat army checkpoint in the northern district of Akkar in May to remain within the legal framework.

Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Khaled Daher, who hails from Akkar, has threatened civil disobedience should the government not refer the killing of Sheikhs Abdul Wahed and Mohammed Merheb to the Judicial Council.

It’s the primary duty of the army to defend the nation, its civil peace and the state and its institutions which means it acts as part of the mission given to it by legitimate authorities, Arslan said.

Then if there is any objection to the military’s role, the criticism should be directed at political authorities and not the institution of the army, he said.

“Military affairs should remain for the army while political affairs should be left for politicians,” he told reporters.

Three Lebanese army officers and eight soldiers arrested over the killing were released on bail. Five remain in custody.

The move drew sharp criticism from the opposition and residents of Akkar blocked main roads to protest their release.

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