Slim rejects extension as he meets al-Rahi over army chief crisis


As cabinet failed to convene to resolve a looming crisis in the army chief command, caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim met Friday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to discuss the steps that must be taken to avoid vacancy after army chief General Joseph Aoun's planned retirement in January.

Slim, who is loyal to the Free Patriotic Movement, unsurprisingly said after the meeting that extending Aoun's term does not fall under his jurisdiction.

"Extending Aoun's term needs to be discussed and passed in parliament," he said, as he supported the appointment of a new army chief.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri had hoped for the extension to take place in Cabinet, but vowed to discuss Aoun's term extension in parliament if Cabinet fails to take this step before the end of November.

"I have told al-Rahi that appointing an army chief would not infringe on the next president's role," Slim said, adding that the next president can, when appointed, reverse the decision.

Al-Rahi, who supports the extension of Aoun's term, told Slim that he prefers the appointment of a new army chief to take place when a president is elected.

Aoun's retirement would add another gap to crisis-hit Lebanon's withering and paralyzed institutions as the tiny Mediterranean country has been without a president, while its government has been running in a limited caretaker capacity. Lebanon has also been without a top spy chief to head its General Security Directorate since March, and without a central bank governor.

Comments 2
Thumb 01 December 2023, 14:10

Lebanon has many competent people, nothing needs to be prolonged for the country function.

Thumb farsical.resistance 01 December 2023, 15:51

So should we understand that the extension is between Slim and none? Just kidding. Bassil, I mean "Slim, wink wink", is refusing Joe Aoun's extension for strictly selfish personal reasons. But at the end it's hassin who will decide what happens, whether in the Army chief or presidential elections file. After months of attacks by Bassil and the FPM, on Hezballah and the so called Shiite duo, in a failed attempt to show himself the big man in the Christian community, the wee little lad has now thrown himself completely at the mercy of hassin.