Salam Hits Back at Aoun, Says His Presidential Proposal ‘Weakens’ Political System, Constitution

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Salam Hits Back at Aoun, Says His Presidential Proposal ‘Weakens’ Political System, Constitution
Naharnet/17.05.15
Prime Minister Tammam Salam has snapped back at Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun over the latter’s latest presidential proposals, noting that such suggestions would only “weaken” the political system and the Constitution.

Failure to elect a president is “an abnormal situation that has led to the emergence of proposals which would only weaken our system and Constitution,” said Salam in an interview with the Qatari al-Sharq newspaper to be published Monday.

Noting that there is no solution looming on the horizon for the presidential crisis, the premier pointed out that the stances of the political forces indicate that “things are heading to further obstruction.”

And as he rejected to attribute the current crisis to defects in the Taef Accord, Salam underlined that “the Constitution is not to blame for what we’re going through but rather the political forces.”

“In my opinion, pinning the blame on the structure and composition of the system and on the Constitution is an attempt to evade responsibility,” added Salam.

On Friday, Aoun blamed the crisis on “the limitation of the presidential powers” after the Taef Accord and “the lack of participation by all the Lebanese factions” in the country’s political life.

He called for choosing one of four solutions: a two-phased election of the president by the people, a popular referendum that is binding for parliament, a parliamentary vote for the “two most representative Maronite MPs”, or holding parliamentary polls based on a new and balanced electoral law before organizing the presidential vote.

Asked if regional powers can help Lebanon resolve the presidential crisis, Salam said: “We welcome anyone who makes an initiative in this regard, but a Lebanese agreement remains the priority.”

Lauding the ongoing dialogue between several political forces, the PM said it contributed to defusing tensions in the country, but he noted that it has failed to find “drastic solutions to the political crisis, most notably the presidential election.”

“We hope it will evolve into something productive,” he added.

Answering a question on the stalled security appointments, Salam emphasized that “state institutions are more important than individuals.”

“This applies to all institutions and we stress the need to do everything that can strengthen these institutions. We reject to turn the issue of appointments into an occasion for putting the commands of these (security) institutions under the mercy of political bickering,” the PM went on to say.

“The stability of these (security) agencies is a vital issue that must be prioritized. If the political forces lack the ability to choose new security chiefs, they must seek to avoid vacuum in these agencies,” Salam added.

Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc has rejected a possible extension of the mandates of the army and police chiefs, calling instead for the appointment of new commanders. The FPM chief is reportedly seeking the appointment of his son-in-law, Commando Regiment chief Chamel Roukoz, as the new army commander.