BEIRUT: Officials failed to agree Monday on a measure to extend the term of Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, leaving few options left to avoid a leadership vacuum at the military's top spot.
President Michel Sleiman met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn and Kahwagi to discuss a decree recommended by Ghosn to delay the general's retirement, set for Sept. 23, by one year using an executive decree under the Defense Law.
Mikati came out against the proposed decree arguing the move was unconstitutional, political sources told The Daily Star.
The sources said the only viable option left to prevent a paralysis in the military establishment was a decree signed only by the caretaker defense minister but that has been rejected by Kahwagi.
The Army commander insists his extension be through a national consensus, which is proving to be very difficult in the face of Lebanon's gridlocked political scene that is polarized over internal disputes and the Syrian conflict.
For the third time this month Parliament failed to convene to discuss 45 items on its agenda including Kahwagi’s extension due to a lack of quorum.
Mikati along with MPs from Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, Future Movement and some March 14 coalition boycotted Monday’s session.
While Aoun rejects Kahwagi's extension altogether as illegal, the Future Movement say that Parliament should only convene over exceptional issues in the presence of a caretaker Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Aoun, a former Army general, urged the Lebanese to unite against what he described as constitutional violations.
"Evidence and proof of constitutional violations and hasty measures is plenty, we only want to mention some: extending the Central Bank governor’s term for three consecutive terms, disrupting elections after disrupting electoral laws, extending Parliament's term, disrupting the Constitutional Council [among other things],” he said in a statement.
"Do not be fooled by those who claim to defend the principles and values as they work hard in their practices to destroy them,” Aoun said. “Let's be united regardless of our affiliations, to face the dismantling of the state, its institution, and the abolition of the nation.”