BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman denied Saturday that MP Michel Aoun offered him a deal to extend his term for an additional year in exchange for appointing a new Army general, saying such reports were inaccurate.
"What some media outlets reported is inaccurate ... that I was offered a one-year extension in exchange for the appointment of a new general," Sleiman said on his Twitter feed.
As-Safir reported that Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, son-in-law of Aoun, offered Sleiman the deal, proposing that Brigadier Shamel Roukoz, the head of the Army Commando Unit, should be appointed to replace Army General Jean Kahwagi.
Last year, Aoun and his Change and Reform bloc opposed extending Kahwagi's term, prompting then Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn to issue an administrative decree stipulating a two-year extension.
Aoun, a former Army general himself, has also rejected proposals to extend Sleiman’s six-year term to avert a vacuum in the country’s top Christian post.
Al-Akhbar reported that Bassil told Sleiman that Aoun's bloc opposed attempts by the Cabinet to make new appointments to fill vacancies in the Military Council, saying Kahwagi should first be replaced.
Meanwhile, Sleiman said in remarks published Saturday that he was "relieved" his term would end soon.
"Some of my aides and advisers have hinted that extending my term was a solution to the presidential crisis, but I am not responsible for such talk because I have made it clear that I am against extending my own term,” Sleiman told Al-Liwaa.
Sleiman also reiterated his criticism of Hezbollah's role in Syria.
"I will not forget how upset Hezbollah was and the campaign they launched against me when I described the tripartite formula as wooden," Sleiman told the local daily.
Hezbollah has long maintained that the tripartite formula of “the Army, the people, and the resistance" was the only means capable of protecting Lebanon from Israeli aggression.
"But Hezbollah forced the collapse of the formula when it involved itself in the Syrian war without asking or coordinating with any of its partners in Lebanon, including those in the tripartite equation," he added.
He also said he would remain active politically, "but that doesn't mean I would run in the parliamentary elections."