Report: U.S. Wants Qahwaji President as Parties Hope Hizbullah Will Press Aoun on Extension

Rabieh has received “confirmed information” that the Americans want the election of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji as president, a media report said on Sunday.

Ad-Diyar newspaper also reported that the political parties are counting on a “major role” for Hizbullah in persuading Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun that extending Qahwaji's term as army chief would not be linked to the presidential race.

“This is not an impossible mission,” the daily quoted both March 8 and March 14 sources as saying.

The FPM's recent decision to boycott cabinet sessions was initially linked to the thorny issue of military appointments.

Defense Minister Samir Moqbel has recently postponed the retirement of Higher Defense Council chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Kheir after no consensus was reached over three candidates that he had proposed, angering the FPM which says that it opposes term extensions for all senior officers.

The movement fears that the extension of Kheir's term could pave the way for a new extension of Qahwaji's term, which expires later this month.

Qahwaji's retirement had been postponed in September 2013 and his term was instead extended for two years.

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