Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently signed a decree on “giving priority” to officers who graduated from the military academy in 1994.
This issue reopened a debate in Lebanon over the “Shi’ite signature” on the majority of decrees in the country.
Decrees are usually signed by the president, a Christian, and the premier, a Sunni. The signature of Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a Shi’ite, was ignored in this case, which angered Speaker Nabih Berri, also a Shi’ite.
The development may reflect negatively on Berri’s relationship with Aoun and fuel his insistence that a Shi’ite be handed the Finance Ministry portfolio in future cabinets. This would ensure that the Shi’ite voice is heard in any government decree.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “priority for officers” decree does not have financial demands and therefore does not need the minister’s signature.
“What happened was not a precedent and it does not deserve this uproar,” they remarked.
They stressed that several decrees had been signed in the past by presidents without the signature of the Finance Minister.
They underlined however that the president is keen on respecting the sectarian balance in Lebanon.
They questioned however the timing of the campaign against the signing of the decree, keeping in mind that several decrees had been issued by Aoun without Khalil’s signature and no one protested against them.