Harb Says Extension of Qahwaji's Tenure 'Inevitable'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb criticized on Sunday endeavors that aim at appointing a new commander for the Lebanese army amid the presidential vacuum.
“We are prohibited from appointing a new army chief and impose it on any new head of state without him having a say in the decision,” Harb lamented in comments published in An Nahar newspaper.
The minister said that the extension of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji is “inevitable,” pointing out that the military chief maintained stability in the country away from politics.
The tenure of Qahwaji is set to end in September. His term was extended for two years in September 2013.
“The extension will be amid a Christian and Muslim consent,” Harb added.
A debate rose recently over a decision to extend the term of more than 20 officers in different posts.
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Samir Moqbel was at loggerheads with the Free Patriotic Movement after MP Michel Aoun decided to withdraw confidence from him over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair.
The FPM described Moqbel's extension decision as “illegal,” arguing that the defense minister's jurisdiction state that he can extend the terms under the authority of a president.
The tenure of Khair expires on February 22.
Media reports had said that Moqbel had abstained from including the name of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, who is Aoun's son-in-law, in the list of extension.
Roukoz's tenure ends in October 2015.
However, Aoun lashed out at critics, denying that his objection is linked to his political aspirations.
Moqbel defended his decision, emphasizing that he has “exclusive jurisdiction” to extend the service of army officers.
The military positions 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. The vacuum also threatens the position of Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous who is set to retire in June.