Aoun Rejects 'Puppet' President, Says 'Confrontation' Has not Ended

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has considered himself a consensual candidate stressing that he would not accept a "puppet" to rule the country.

Aoun told al-Joumhouria daily in an interview published on Friday that he told his supporters to mobilize for street protests.

“I will not accept for the period of Syrian (hegemony) to be repeated in Lebanon and for a puppet president to be elected,” he said.

“We need a consensual head of state who … can fix the track and can control corruption and security,” the head of the Change and Reform bloc leader stressed.

Asked whether he thought he was a consensual candidate, Aoun replied: “Of course.”

Lawmakers from Aoun's bloc in addition to Hizbullah MPs have been boycotting parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May last year.

Their boycott has caused a lack of quorum, leaving Baabda Palace vacant.

Aoun accused al-Mustaqbal Movement and the March 14 alliance of “seeking to impose a president who does not represent Christians.”

It was not clear if he was referring to Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.

Asked if the vacuum in the country's top Christian post would remain pending his election, Aoun replied: “Until now yes. There is a confrontation.”

He also reiterated that he would not make any concessions.

Aoun denied what he called “rumors” that he is preparing for a “surprise” on August 7.

He said, however, that “something could take place although I haven't promised anything.”

The weekly meetings that the FPM chief is holding with his supporters are aimed at “awakening the people,” he said.

“If we don't tell them the truth of what's happening, then they will say that Aoun has paralyzed the cabinet and the parliament,” the MP told his interviewer.

Aoun is holding meetings with crowds visiting him at his residence in Rabieh every Saturday. He is addressing them with fiery speeches rejecting plans for the extension of the terms of high-ranking military and security officials.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has suspended cabinet sessions after warnings made by FPM ministers that they would not attend meetings if the government agenda is not topped by an article on the appointment of top officials.

Aoun wants to receive political consensus on the appointment of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz as army chief as part of a package for the appointment of other top security officers.

Asked why he was not in favor of delaying discussions on controversial issues in the cabinet, Aoun said: “These topics are linked to the rights of Christians.”

“Under the law, the army leadership belongs to Maronites,” he stressed.

“When they illegally and unconstitutionally extend the term of the military leader, then he loses his immunity,” said Aoun.



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