BEIRUT: Change and Reform leader MP Michel Aoun Sunday vowed to topple the leaders of corruption as Free Patriotic Movement supporters converged on Baabda to mark 25 years since the Oct. 13, 1990 battle between then Army Commander Gen. Aoun and the Syrian army.
“We are obstructing the bad decisions taken by politicians whose only aim is to topple the pillars of the state by neglecting the Constrictions and national accord,” Aoun said as he addressed hundreds of FPM protesters gathered near the Baabda Palace.
“We will confront you until the end.”
The former FPM leader said that “they (politicians) will pay the price for manipulating the law,” indicating the extension of the terms for top security chiefs.
"Thanks to them (corrupt politicians) Lebanon became like a skeleton that is awaiting for a miracle to revive it."
“The state institution is suffering from a defected leadership,” Aoun said, adding that extending the terms of state servants is a “dangerous issue because it’s dissembling the state.”
He asserted that “real change can only come through the adoption of a proportional electoral law that represents the aspirations of the people.”
“Then we can begin electing a new head of state.”
"We will not allow the election of a president who bows his head as he walks by... we want him on your image. A head of state who rejects injustices and supports righteous causes."
Aoun expressed belief that the army and Internal Security Forces leaders had “lost their legitimacy,” expressing fear that the extension process “would reach the whole state posts.”
“The Cabinet should have left a long time ago...the extended Parliament, which is still minor, cannot bear the responsibilities.”
He revealed that the FPM will take to the streets of Beirut from time to time with mass demonstrations that are wider than other protests.
Aoun, who is jockeying for the presidency mainly backed by his party's March 8 ally Hezbollah, is calling for a new electoral law based on proportional representation and parliamentary elections, followed by presidential polls. He has called for the election of a president by a popular vote as a way of ending the presidential impasse.
"We are today near your home (Baabda Palace) that is waiting for someone to liberate it from vacuum and fill it with decision-making... only your voice will liberate it," he said addressing his supporters.
"I called you and you answered my appeal. You are the decision-makers and no one has the right to represent you after today," Aoun said earlier via his official Twitter.
FPM leader Gebran Bassil told Al-Jadeed as he arrived at the scene that he rejects tackling the Cabinet crisis, referring to the “people who are gathering in Baabda” as representatives of the government.
He later laid wreaths at a memorial held for those who were killed in the 1990 battle.
"We are still suffering from the same problems after 25 years have passed," FPM Minister Elias Bou Saab told MTV.
He said that "Aoun will hold onto his stances," calling on the state to respect the laws by endorsing the appointment of high ranking state officials in order to resume its work.
Holding the FPM flags and wearing orange, Aoun’s supporters began assembling near the Baabda Palace to demand the election of a new head of state and to thwart another Oct. 13 attempt.
Following his eviction from the Presidential Palace in Baabda after he rejected the Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 Civil War, Aoun and his family took shelter at the French Embassy in Beirut before a deal was reached, causing the Change and Reform leader to spend 15 years of exile in France.
"A nation that has Aoun and (Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan) Nasrallah as its leaders will never bow," one banner read.
Lebanon has been without a head of state since the mandate of ex-President Michel Sleiman ended in May 2014.
"Just as they are all taking their [Constitutional] rights, we want our rights back...we don't want a figurative president, we want to restore his (president’s) prerogatives," a protester said.
"We want Aoun to become president because he is the only one who can restore the rights of Christians," a female FPM supporter said.
"The palace returned to its owner," another banner said.
Some FPM supporters told Al-Jadeed that they have arrived in Baabda overnight and slept in the area.
"I am coming from (the north Lebanon district of) Zghorta and i arrived in Baabda late Saturday to take part in today's protest," a protester revealed.
Speaker Nabih Berri had launched all-party talks among heads of parliamentary blocs last month aimed at reaching a deal on the election of a president and ending paralysis in Parliament and the Cabinet. But so far, it hasn't reached the desired results.