Aoun Decries Bid to 'Empty Christian Posts' in Presidency, Army Command, Says Won't Tolerate Extensionإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday accused rival parties of seeking to “empty” the Christian posts in the presidency and the army command, as he stressed that the FPM will not tolerate any attempt at extending the terms of security chiefs.
“The state is collapsing and it became a 'skeleton' after the fall of its Constitution,” said Aoun at a press conference after the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc.
“They are claiming that Aoun wants to be the president and we're saying that we want a strong president who would properly represent the Lebanese,” he added.
“We are not refusing to acknowledge the figures who represent the Sunni and Shiite sects but they must also recognize our representatives,” Aoun underlined.
Citing an example from the region, the FPM leader noted that the Christians of the Arab countries diminished “because they did not exist as citizens” and because they did not have any role in “decision making or in their countries' influential institutions.”
Turning to the controversial issue of security appointments, Aoun accused “some parties” of seeking to “empty the Army Command of competent officers” and to carry out a second extension of the term of incumbent Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji.
“I did not say that I want to appoint my son-in-law (Commando Regiment commander Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz) as army chief, but I want the appointment of the army commander to occur in line with the applicable laws,” Aoun clarified.
“If we cannot select a commander out of 500 brigadier generals, let us dissolve the army,” he lamented.
Stressing that any attempt at extension would be “impermissible,” Aoun vowed to take “measures” to confront such a move.
A dispute had erupted earlier this year between Aoun and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel over the latter's extension of the terms of some senior security officials. Aoun slammed the move, saying that the minister exceeded his privileges.
For his part, Moqbel defended his measure, explaining that it adhered to the Constitution.
The MP went so far as to withdraw his confidence from the minister over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair.
The military positions in Lebanon are suffering as a 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 positions of Army chief Qahwaji and Internal Security Forces chief Major General Ibrahim Basbous.