Berri Says Aoun Lost Opportunity on Appointments, Criticizes Irresponsible Behaviors

Speaker Nabih Berri has said that Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun lost the opportunity of bringing his son-in-law as army chief by rejecting the names proposed by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.

Berri, whose remarks were published in local dailies on Monday, told his visitors that an opportunity, which will not come again, has been lost.

He said Aoun “waged the wrong battle and his representatives (in the cabinet) did not take the advantage of Moqbel's proposal of a series of candidates for the army leadership,” including the FPM leader's son-in-law Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, who is the Commando Regiment chief.

Berri told his visitors that he would have backed Roukoz's appointment along with Hizbullah, the FPM's allies and possibly Kataeb ministers.

But it is now difficult to meet Aoun's demand to appoint Roukoz as army leader following Moqbel's decision to extend the terms of the military commander, the chief of staff and the head of the Higher Defense Council, said Berri.

The speaker denied that he has launched an initiative to resolve the dispute on the appointment of high-ranking military and security officials.

But he said Aoun has the right to call for demonstrations to express the FPM's stances on condition that he does not paralyze the life of the people.

The FPM leader called Saturday on his supporters to get ready to stage demonstrations against the military extensions.

Berri also lamented that Lebanon will not be the first to benefit from the repercussions of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and major powers last month.

“We are wasting time with repulsive and irresponsible behaviors,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an interview published in the Egyptian daily al-Ahram, Berri said that the election of a new president requires Saudi-Iranian assistance.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year.

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