Report: Army Chief Refuses to Accept Decrees Rebuked By Khalilإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The army's leadership has reportedly “refused” to accept controversial decrees related to the promotion of army officers handed back to the defense ministry by the finance minister after he refused to sign them, asking said minister to provide “written answers” to the reasons and circumstances that justify the decision, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Sources following up closely on the new row between President Michel and Speaker Nabih Berri over the decree said: “It seems the row will find no close solution and the crisis will be wide open with the new year beginning.”
The row is likely to escalate “if the ministry of defense took advantage of promotions as a fait accompli and did not respond to the letter of the minister of finance, in which he requests evidence on the legal grounds to upgrade a number of officers who did not fulfill conditions according to years of service.”
The officers in question were undergoing their first year of officer training at the Military Academy when Syrian forces ousted Aoun’s military government from Baabda in 1990. They were suspended by the pro-Damascus authorities until 1993 before they resumed their officer training course as second-year cadets.
“Taking such a step means the crisis has reached the red lines,” considered the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Aoun-Berri spat broke out after the president and Premier Saad Hariri signed a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers.
Berri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a political aide to Berri, have insisted that the decree should have also carried the finance minister's signature.
Aoun and his aides have argued that the decree did not require Khalil's signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him have argued against.
Ain el-Tineh sources (the Speaker's residence) have meanwhile warned that the decree would tip sectarian balance in favor of Christians in the army's highest echelons.