Aoun Condemns 'Extending Bloody Conflict' on Streets, Says Illegal to Extend Qahwaji Termإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Friday rejected what he called “selectivity” in putting draft laws on parliament's agenda, stressing that extending the term of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji would be illegal and not an appropriate way to “reward” the army after the Abra battle.
“Urgent draft laws were disregarded and not put on the agenda of parliament's session, although they have the priority,” Aoun said after an extraordinary meeting for the Change and Reform bloc.
“There is the law on those who fled to Israel and Speaker (Nabih) Berri said that he referred it to the committees, although he has no right to send it to the committees and the parliament's general assembly must decide,” Aoun stressed.
He noted that the controversial Orthodox Gathering draft electoral law was among the bills that were not put on parliament's agenda, “although it is an urgent bill.”
“The gas pipeline law was not also addressed despite the fact that it would generate revenues for the treasury,” Aoun lamented.
He underlined that lawmakers “represent the nation” and that “no one has the right to prevent them from raising their proposals in parliament.”
Turning to the issue of the possible extension of Qahwaji's term, Aoun said: “Why should the parliament usurp the cabinet's powers in appointing the army commander?”
“What's more noteworthy is that non-Christian leaders are trying to decide on the matter without the knowledge of the Christian leaders or their approval. We want to know who submitted the draft law,” he added.
“The equal (Christian-Muslim) power-sharing passed through a bitter experience when they refused to grant Christians their rights,” Aoun pointed out.
“Since 1990, they have been appointing the army commander and whispering in his ear that he would become a president,” he added.
Aoun said some parties want to extend the terms of the army commander and the chief of staff, wondering if they also want to "extend Lebanon's term so that it can stay alive."
Commenting on the deadly Abra gunbattle and its repercussions on some Lebanese regions, Aoun said: “We witnessed what happened yesterday in Abra and today in Tripoli, who is responsible for that? Where is the (army) intelligence directorate? We warned a lot about the illegal Syrian presence that violates the National Pact and stressed the need to control the refugees, but some of them fought alongside al-Asir.”
“A certain responsibility might fall on the interior minister (Marwan Charbel) but we won't accept that he be turned into a scapegoat while the real culprits are being protected, because preventing him from doing his job by higher authorities is the reason,” he added.
“When the Salafists only numbered 100, we asked the premier (Najib Miqati) not to dissociate himself from Tripoli and today they are closing the serail and causing troubles and security forces withdrew because they are prohibited from taking decisive action,” Aoun said.
Turning to Sidon, he noted that a strife between the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp and the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Haret Saida “could have erupted.”
“All people would intervene when they feel threatened, that's why I tell those who will convene in parliament or cabinet that they better stay in their houses if they will only be spectators in the face of crises,” Aoun added.
“Is it possible that they have failed to agree on putting an end to the bloody conflict that is taking place although they managed to agree on extension?” Aoun wondered.
“Where is the army? Where are the plans to arm it? Can it only be rewarded through extension (of Qahwaji's term)? We said that the entire army must be rewarded, not only one or two members,” he went on to say.
He revealed that there is a possibility that the parliament might not convene on Monday.
“There are a lot of competent generals and the cabinet must appoint the army commander and what's happening is an abnormal game,” added Aoun.
“Let no one try to take us lightly and we are not anyone's followers. Our participation will be complete and no one can take decisions on our behalf,” he stressed.
On Sunday and Monday, clashes in Sidon between the army and gunmen loyal to al-Asir left 18 troops dead and 20 others wounded. More than 20 supporters of al-Asir were also killed in the fighting.