Appointment or extension? Latest developments in army chief file


It is very likely that a Cabinet session will be held on Monday with the aim of extending the term of Army chief General Joseph Aoun and the probable appointment of a new chief of staff, informed sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Saturday.

The Free Patriotic Movement has meanwhile “rejected participation in Monday’s session, stressing that the appointment of a new army chief, chief of staff and military council should take place through roaming decrees signed by all ministers, not through a Cabinet session, expressing concerns that (General Joseph Aoun’s) retirement could be postponed regardless of the defense minister’s approval,” the al-Liwaa daily reported.

Sources close to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement meanwhile told ad-Diyar newspaper that FPM chief Jebran Bassil is likely to accept that a new army chief be appointed in a Cabinet session that would involve the signatures of the prime minister and the defense and finance ministers on the decree.

The Nidaa al-Watan newspaper for its part reported that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi is preparing to launch a campaign during his Sunday sermon to demand the extension of General Aoun’s term.

Sources close to al-Rahi meanwhile rejected, in remarks to the same newspaper, that a new army chief be appointed.

“Appointment represents a strong blow to the presidential post, because it would then be considered that the country is running without a president and that major decisions can be taken,” the sources said.

Nidaa al-Watan also said that caretaker PM Najib Mikati is “clinging to extension and will not propose any appointment if it does not win Bkirki’s approval, seeing as he does not want to bypass the highest (religious) Christian authority during these delicate situations.”

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