Aoun to Form 'National Front' to Defend Constitution, Says Qahwaji Term Extension 'Illegitimate'
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday announced that he intends to form a “national front” to defend the constitution and prevent “the disintegration of the state,” describing the mechanism devised to extend the term of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji as “illegitimate.”
“We want to immunize the military institution against those who want to tamper with its hierarchy and are issuing edicts that are harming the military hierarchy and manipulating the law,” said Aoun after the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc.
“The dangerous thing is that the high-ranking authorities are behind the manipulation of law and they cannot be entrusted with the constitution or the laws,” Aoun lamented.
He noted that “claims that they're seeking to avoid vacuum are a big lie and the issue (of extending Qahwaji's term) should have been at least raised in cabinet.”
“There is no need for this battle or for bypassing the laws,” Aoun added.
“What will we achieve? Will the illegitimate step create new legitimacy? No. Anything based on an illegitimate decision would be illegitimate and can be challenged according to the laws,” he went on to say.
Aoun reiterated that his stance is “based on principles,” reminding that he had rejected any extension of the term of former Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi.
“We can't reject the extension of the ISF chief's term and accept to extend the terms of the army commander or the chief of staff. When they want to criticize our stance that is based on principles, they claim that we are against Sunnis or Shiites, but we have principles in our genes and our path is straightforward,” Aoun added.
“Constitutional violations are tantamount to a white coup that is aimed at seizing control of the constitutional powers ... and we will not remain silent over this coup,” he pledged.
The FPM leader stressed that all laws must be compatible with the constitution and “whoever tampers with the laws would be tampering with the foundations of the state.”
“They are dismantling the state and all state officials are with extension, which is a totally disgraceful thing. We claim that we have a state that was established in 1926, prior to the foundation of Israel which claims to be the sole democratic state in the Middle East,” Aoun added.
He noted that any ruler must be “a role model for respecting the laws and must be the guardian of the constitution and laws and must abide by them.”
“Gradual extension has become a rule for those who have lust for power and we don't know when will this rule come to an end,” Aoun said, referring to the recent extension of parliament's term.
“We have decided to form a national front for defending the constitution, which would consist of individuals who are representative of their society, with the aim of preserving our state and preventing its disintegration,” Aoun announced.
He noted that the decree to extend Qahwaji's term violates Article 65 of the Constitution and “this should send the minister concerned to court.”
Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn is expected to sign a decree on Wednesday that would postpone the retirement of Qahwaji for at least one year.
“We have taken the decision of confronting any violation committed by the constitutional authorities because we will not give up our land or identity,” Aoun vowed.
Asked about the state's handling of the aggravating Syrian refugee crisis, Aoun reminded of his previous warnings about Lebanon's limited ability to cope with the refugee influx, saying “let them weep over the situation of the refugees.”
“They must realize that good governance must happen through confronting any situation on time,” he noted.