BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement Leader MP Michel Aoun went on the offensive Saturday, slamming both the president and now Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati over the recent resignation of the government.
Aoun, whose Change and Reform bloc enjoys a majority of seats in the government, described the motives behind Mikati’s decision to throw in the towel as “silly” and accused President Michel Sleiman of being dictatorial over the thorny issue of the elections supervisory committee.
“The reasons behind Mikati’s resignation are dumb and Sleiman behaved like a dictator in trying to impose the formation of the committee to oversee the upcoming elections,” he told Sawt al-Mada radio station.
Mikati announced the resignation of his government Friday after citing the Cabinet’s failure to pass a proposal to extend the term of the country’s police chief, who will retire on April 1, as well as the blocking of a decision to form a supervisory committee for the 2013 elections.
Sleiman suspended the government after the fallout among ministers and on Saturday accepted Mikati’s resignation, tasking the Tripoli lawmaker with continuing as caretaker prime minister, in preparation for parliamentary consultations to name the next prime minister-designate.
Aoun described Mikati’s proposal to extend Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi’s mandate as unlawful.
“They want to extend the term of an officer that has reached the retirement age, which is a violation to the law and an affront to the [Internal Security Forces] institution,” Aoun said.
The March 8 coalition regard Rifi as too close to the Future Movement, which heads the country’s opposition March 14.
Parliamentary sources told The Daily Star Friday that Mikati’s resignation dealt “a strong blow” to the March 8 parties and was similar to the strike they dealt to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri – who head the Future Movement – in 2011.
Hariri’s cabinet came to an end after ministers loyal to the March 8 resigned while Hariri was on an official visit to the United States.
In the radio interview Saturday, Aoun also took aim at the president, saying his insistence on the formation of the elections committee to supervise the elections under the 1960 law was the result of U.S. interference.
“The visit of the U.S. ambassador to some politicians is what brought to light the issue of forming the supervisory committee and Sleiman supported such a course,” said Aoun.
Sleiman suspended sessions of the government Friday, stating that he could not forsee any future sessions or Cabinet agenda that did not include the question of the supervisory committee, which the March 8 coalition regard as a step toward holding the June 9 elections under the 1960 law.
Aoun also accused the president of going against the wishes of Christian sects in the country, which he said all opposed the 1960 law – a qada-based electoral system used in the last parliamentary polls.
“Sleiman did not give a hoot for all the stances of sects that oppose the 1960 law and appeared like he was bullying his own [Christian] sect,” said Aoun.
The four major Christian political parties have endorsed an electoral proposal put forward by the Orthodox Gathering, which allows each sect to elect its own representatives and adopts Lebanon as a single district based on a proportional representation system.
However, the proposal is opposed by the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party, March 14 independent Christian lawmakers and the president.
In light of Mikati’s decision, the FPM leader said attention should now turn to the constitutional protocols for the formation of a new government.