Miqati Welcomes Parliamentary Session Aimed at Extending Qahwaji's Termإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati welcomed on Thursday Speaker Nabih Berri's call for a parliamentary session during the first week of July as long as it focuses on the importance of extending the mandate of security leaders.
“I am at the forefront of those who welcomed holding the session if its priority is to discuss the extension of security leaders' terms, in particular, Army Chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji,” Miqati said in comments published in As Safir newspaper.
He stressed the importance of safeguarding the security situation in the southern city of Sidon, which witnessed two-day clashes between the army and supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir.
Miqati also called for the swift formation of a new cabinet to safeguard and maintain stability in the country to confront regional and local challenges.
Sidon battles come as the conflict in neighboring Syria raises tensions in Lebanon, with the violence regularly spilling over the border.
Eighteen soldiers were killed and 50 were wounded in the unrest.
More than 20 of al-Asir's supporters were killed, according to a security official.
Dozens of them were also arrested, but there was no sign of the cleric.
The Syrian conflict has also raised sectarian tensions in Lebanon, particularly between Shiite residents who back the regime of President Bashar Assad and Sunni Lebanese who support the Sunni-led uprising.
The extension of Qahwaji's term which ends this September when he turns 60 – the maximum age for the post of the army commander – had created a disputed among the political foes.
Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has opposed it and on Tuesday criticized al-Mustaqbal for seeking an extension.
Aoun said that since the post was reserved for the Maronite sect, then Christians had the priority before former PM Saad Hariri to give their opinion on it.
But Hariri snapped back, saying the army was not owned by one sect.