Aoun Slams Hariri's 'Illegal' Efforts to Extend Qahwaji's Term, Vows to Make a Challengeإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun totally rejected attempts to extend the tenure army chief General Jean Qahwaji, vowing to challenge it before the Constitutional Council.
Aoun accused in an interview on Thursday former Prime Minister Saad Hariri of exploiting the recent two-day battle in the southern city of Sidon to push forward the extension of Qahwaji's term, considering it “illegal.”
The army fought a battle against Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in the southern town of Abra.
Eighteen soldiers were killed, 50 were wounded in the unrest and 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.
“I am against any extension... We should respect the law,” Aoun said.
He slammed the parliamentary session set for extending the term of security leaders, stressing that his Change and Reform bloc will “vote against it.”
On Tuesday, Aoun criticized al-Mustaqbal for seeking an extension.
He said that since the post was reserved for the Maronite sect, then Christians had the priority before Hariri to give their opinion on it.
But Hariri snapped back, saying the army was not owned by one sect.
The Christian leader pointed out to al-Akhbar that there are several officers that are competent enough to be appointed in high posts in the army.
“I already began preparing my challenge against the extension,” Aoun said.
He noted that if the parliament approved the extension draft-law then all Brig. Generals and Colonels terms would be prolonged for another three years, sarcastically adding that the Lebanese would then have a “group of elderly in the army.”
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.
On Wednesday, Speaker Nabih Berri called for a parliamentary session in the first week of July.
Asked if he will stand alone in the battle against the extension, the FPM leader slammed the political leaders in the country, saying that “they do whats in their best interest.”
“The constitution was drafted to be imposed not violated,” he said.
Political leaders that support the extension of Qahwaji's mandate argue that the security situation in the country can't endure any vacancy in military posts.
On the differences between the FPM and the March 8 allies, in particular, Hizbullah and AMAL movement, Aoun told al-Akhbar that the rift is with Speaker Nabih Berri.
“We can fix it all. I will have to wait and see what happens,” Aoun said.
He noted that the continuous sharp differences among allies forces each party to reconsider its options.
“I am holding onto the implementation of the law. We will fight and this is what distinguishes us,” Aoun added.