Franjieh Backs Qahwaji against Vacuum, but to Go Ahead with 'Unanimous' Decision of Resignationإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh has said he would back the extension of Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji's term to avoid vacuum in the military leadership but would also call on the minister representing him in the cabinet to resign if the March 8 alliance took a unanimous decision about it.
Franjieh told As Safir daily in an interview published on Friday that he supports a call to appoint Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz as army chief when Qahwaji's term expires at the end of September.
“But if his appointment was not possible and I had the option to choose between Qahwaji and vacuum, then I would select the extension of” the army chief's term, said the lawmaker.
On Wednesday, al-Akhbar daily cited sources as saying that Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has threatened to pull his ministers out of the government unless the intention to extend the terms of several senior officers was dropped.
When asked about the alleged threat, Franjieh, who belongs to Aoun's Change and Reform bloc, said that he rejects the paralysis of the cabinet of Prime Minister Tammam Salam over any possible extension.
Yet he stressed that he would consult with his allies in the March 8 alliance, mainly Hizbullah, before taking any move.
“If they unanimously decided to withdraw from the government, then I will not stay alone in it,” said Franjieh, who is represented by Culture Minister Rony Araiji in the cabinet.
The lawmaker also expected the dialogue between the Lebanese Forces and the FPM not to achieve any tangible results.
He said the talks between the two rivals cannot produce a president.
Baabda Palace has been vacant since May 2014 when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended. The majority of the March 8 alliance's MPs have been boycotting the parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a head of state under the excuse that there should be an agreement on a compromise candidate first.
Franjieh expected the vacuum to last long.
He also denied that his Marada Movement was engaged in a similar dialogue with the LF. There are consultative meetings between the two sides from time to time, he said.
In the interview, Franjieh threw his weight behind Hizbullah in its verbal attacks against Saudi Arabia over its military campaign on Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government against the rebels has reached a dead end, he said.
The air strikes will not lead to success on the ground because Saudi Arabia cannot wage a ground invasion, the MP told As Safir.
“I support (Hizbullah leader) Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah over the stance that he has announced on the Saudi war,” said Franjieh.
Nasrallah said in a speech last month that Saudi Arabia will be roundly defeated in its air campaign against the Huthis.
The Hizbullah chief is expected to make more fiery statements against Riyadh in a speech he is scheduled to give on Friday.