Officials: Progress in Talks on Army Promotions

Change and Reform bloc officials revealed Tuesday that consultations among top politicians aimed at ending the deadlock on the promotion of army officers have made progress.

The officials, who were not identified, told al-Mustaqbal newspaper that the talks are tackling the promotions and the activation of the work of parliament and the government.

Ministers representing Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun have been boycotting cabinet sessions over their insistence to agree on a working mechanism for the government in the absence of a president and the promotion of army officers.

Their boycott has paralyzed the cabinet, adding to the country's woes, which started with the vacuum at Baabda Palace following the end of President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure in May 2014.

Parliament has also been paralyzed. The last time it met was when MPs extended their own term in November.

Change and Reform totally rejects the extension of the terms of top military and security officials, calling for the appointment of new figures instead.

It is also backing the promotion of army officers to keep Commando Regiment chief Chamel Roukoz in the military and make him eligible to become army commander because differences among rival parties are hindering new appointments in the absence of a president.

Roukoz is the son-in-law of Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun.

Sources said that Aoun's attendance of the national dialogue chaired by Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday will be a sign that a deal on the promotions is in the making.

If the lawmaker continues to boycott the all-party talks and delegates his other son-in-law Free Patriotic Movement chief Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil instead, then it would be clear that his objectives have not yet been met.



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