Minister Samir Moqbel arrives at the Parliament in Beirut, Thursday, April 3, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Defense Minister Samir Moqbel said Friday he would proceed with extending the terms of senior security officials despite strong objections by the Free Patriotic Movement ministers who have denounced his decision as "theatrics".The exchange of diatribe between Moqbel on the one hand, and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Education Minister Elias Bou Saab on the other, reflected long-simmering differences within the Cabinet over handling the sensitive issue of key military and security appointments in the absence of a president. Despite the FPM's staunch opposition to the extension of terms of any military and security officials, a defiant Moqbel said he would issue a decree by Saturday postponing Kheir's retirement. Moqbel hinted at another extension of Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi's term, which expires on Sept. 30, ruling out any Cabinet crisis as a result of this extension. The extension of Kahwagi's term by one year last August infuriated the FPM, which prompted the party's two ministers, backed by Hezbollah's ministers, to boycott Cabinet for months.On Moqbel's proposal of three candidates to succeed Kheir, out of the 24 ministers, only seven voted, including two ministers from the FPM, two from Hezbollah, Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian and Sports and Youth Minister Abdul-Muttaleb al-Hinawi. All other ministers abstained, including Moqbel himself.
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