Bassil Warns FPM Ready to Topple Political System, Cabinet

The Free Patriotic Movement is ready to topple the country's political system in an attempt to survive and could resort to the option of bringing down the cabinet, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has said.

“We are ready to abandon the system,” Bassil said, adding the FPM's rivals “are neither implementing it nor accepting us to be part of it.”

“If I were given two choices, then I would choose what keeps me alive,” the FPM official told al-Akhbar newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

“We will definitely back federalism if we were forced to choose between it and our role, existence and dignity,” said Bassil.

“The bad behavior reached to a point where we as Christians feel being unwanted,” he told his interviewer.

Like other FPM officials, Bassil said the anti-government protests that the movement is planning to hold will not be limited to a single sector.

“For the past ten years, we are working on projects and laws that are facing obstruction in the cabinet and elsewhere,” he said.

The FPM is pushing for the government to discuss the appointment of high-ranking military and security officials because FPM chief Michel Aoun wants that his son-in-law Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz be appointed army chief.

Last week, the cabinet failed to tackle the issue and widened the divide among its different parties but further disputes are threatening Thursday's cabinet session.

The plan to hold the protests hinges on the session's outcome, FPM officials have said.

“The issue of toppling the cabinet from inside or outside is one of the options,” Bassil, who is Aoun's other son-in-law, said in response to a question. “We have many more options.”

Asked whether their moves come in response to the FPM's call for the appointment of an army chief, Bassil said: “The issue is no longer about the military leadership and the presidency.”

It is about the authorities of the president, the law on power-sharing and the implementation of administrative and financial decentralization, he said.

“These issues today are much more important than the election of Aoun as president,” Bassil added.

The minister told al-Akhbar that the FPM's rivals are seeking to destroy the president's remaining authorities amid the vacuum at Baabda Palace.

“This is unacceptable and is a matter of life and death for us,” he said.

Baabda has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year.

The Christians should protect the presidency and force Prime Minister Tammam Salam to respect their role in the cabinet in the absence of a president, said Bassil.

“I will act as the president inside the cabinet and will not allow anyone to strip me of my authorities,” he added.



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