Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement leader ditched by allies in Army chief extension case
A warning by Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun to challenge the extension of Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji's term is not likely to materialize after he was ditched by his allies, sources said Monday.
The informed sources told An Nahar daily that the Shura Council by-laws allow a person affected by the extension to make his challenge, which in this case does not involve Aoun.
The challenge should be made by an officer from the rank of brigadier-general. The sources ruled out any such move by around 350 brigadier-generals against their leader while they are in service.
Politically, Aoun was left alone in his rejection of the challenge after a member of his Change and Reform bloc, MP Suleiman Franjieh, was the latest to announce that he is in favor of extending Qahwaji's term.
The mandate of the army commander is expected to be extended Monday during a meeting of the Higher Defense Council under President Michel Suleiman at Baabda Palace.
Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn, who is loyal to Franjieh, will make the recommendation for the extension of Qahwaji’s term in addition to the mandate of army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Walid Salman.
His move would come after the parliament failed to make the extension over the boycott of several blocs, including Aoun's Change and Reform.
Aoun threatened last week to challenge the extension despite being supported by his allies in the March 8 coalition – Hizbullah, Amal and Franjieh's Marada movement.