Moqbel: I Extended Khair's Term out of Keenness on Military Institutionإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel justified on Saturday his decision to extend the term of Higher Defense Council chief Mohammed Khair, saying he did it out of the interest of the military institution, reported the daily An Nahar.
He told the daily: “I took the decision out of my personal convictions and keenness to safeguard the functioning of the military institution at this critical time.”
“Extending his term is within my jurisdiction and rules of procedure,” he stressed.
He explained that the military council is comprised on six members, three of whom have retired, while the rest are the army commander, chief of staff, and Khair.
“Khair is expected to retire on February 22, which will leave the council down to two members, rendering it incapable of taking any decisions and I will therefore be unable to provide the needs of the army,” Moqbel stated.
“Such a vacuum cannot take place given the war against terrorism and the need to ensure the security of the people,” stressed the minister.
He remarked however that extending Khair's term will not necessary entail the extension of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji's tenure, which ends in September.
“New factors may come into play until that date. God willing we will be able to elect a new president and form a new cabinet, which will be followed with the appointment of a new army chief,” Moqbel added.
“Why should we get ahead ourselves seven months in advance?” he wondered.
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun criticized on Tuesday Moqbel's decision to extend Khair's term, saying that he had “exceeded his powers.”
He also demanded that confidence be withdrawn from the minister.
Moqbel defended his decision, emphasizing that he has “exclusive jurisdiction” to extend the service of army officers.
“The issue of Khair is 100% clear and I have the jurisdiction to sign or refrain from signing” decrees extending the service of officers “according to the Legislative Decree 102 and the powers exclusively vested in me by the defense law,” he said.