TRIPOLI/BEIRUT: Several people took to the streets Friday in the northern city of Tripoli in protest of the government's failure to extend the term of Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, who is expected to hand over his post Saturday to Brig. Gen. Roger Salam.
Young men blocked several roads leading to Nour Square in Lebanon’s second largest city in protest while gunshots were heard in various neighborhoods.
During a Saturday ceremony at Internal Security Forces’ headquarters in Beirut, the police chief, whose term expires April 1, will hand over his post to Salam.
March 14 lawmakers have handed Speaker Nabih Berri a petition signed by 69 MPs to extend the term of Rifi as well as Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, who will turn 60 this year, the maximum age for his post.
The petition calls on Berri to hold an emergency session as soon as possible to approve the retroactive extension.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who also signed the petition, announced the resignation of his government last week, citing the government’s failure to pass a proposal to extend Rifi’s term.
Both Hezbollah and ally Free Patriotic Movement oppose extending Rifi’s term.
The proposed petition put forward by the March 14 politicians also limits the time politicians have to forestall a void in key security positions, allowing Rifi to stay on until 62, and would extend Kahwagi’s tenure until he turns 63.