Report: Berri's Proposal is Only Solution to Decree Row

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Speaker Nabih Berri’s latest proposal is the “only solution” for the ongoing spat over the controversial officers seniority decree, a ministerial source told al-Hayat daily in remarks published Sunday.

Berri has asked MP Wael Abu Faour of the Progressive Socialist Party to pass on the suggestion to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Baabda sources told al-Hayat that Aoun has not yet received the proposal.

According to media reports, Berri’s suggestion calls for merging the disputed seniority decree with the officer promotions decree and for Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil’s signature on the unified decree.

Al-Hayat quoted parliamentary sources as saying that the proposal will be discussed in a meeting between Aoun and Hariri upon the premier’s return from abroad.

The Aoun-Berri spat broke out after the president and the premier signed a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers. Berri and Finance Minister Khalil have insisted that the decree should have also carried the finance minister's signature.

Aoun and his aides have argued that the decree did not require Khalil's signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him have argued against.

Ain el-Tineh sources have meanwhile warned that the decree would tip sectarian balance in favor of Christians in the army's highest echelons.

The officers in question were undergoing their first year of officer training at the Military Academy when Syrian forces ousted Aoun’s military government from Baabda in 1990. They were suspended by the pro-Damascus authorities until 1993 before they resumed their officer training course as second-year cadets.