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Lebanon: Taif Agreement Prevailing In Berri-Aoun Dispute

Lebanon: Taif Agreement Prevailing In Berri-Aoun Dispute

Saturday, 6 January, 2018 - 08:45
Berri, Aoun and Hariri meet at the Presidential Palace in Baabda last November/NNA

A dispute erupted two weeks ago between President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri over a decree to promote a number of officers without the approval of the Finance Minister seemed more complicated on Friday and bypassed the fact of being linked to the signature of the minister after Berri hinted that the row between the two men is related to the “Taif Accord.”

However, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) denies that the quarrel has reached such level, saying that such issue needs to be solved outside the media circles.

Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri had signed the decree that sees the promotion of officers who graduated from the military school in 1994. However, Berri insists that the decree should be approved by the Finance Ministry, before going into effect.

In the absence of any sight of a solution over the issue, and while each party remains attached to its own position, sources close to Berri told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Speaker “is currently engaged in a battle to protect the Taif Accord.”

The announcement from the Berri camp reveals the speaker’s fears from violating the Taif Accord that ended the bilateral rule at the executive level in Lebanon, where decisions needed the signatures of the President and the Cabinet.

However, the FPM party, which is close to the President, denies that the quarrel over the signature of the decree to promote a number of officers, who graduated from the military academy in 1994, has reached such elevated level.

FPM member and deputy at the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc told Asharq Al-Awsat that the target and context behind the signature of the decree does not aim to violate the Taif Accord.

“The issue was given a larger dimension from its actual size. We are not in the process of messing with the Taif Accord,” he said.

Aoun said that solving the dispute needs the presence of direct talks between the two sides.

Pending potential contacts between Aoun and Berri, other parties linked to the quarrel also admit the complexity of the situation. Hezbollah earlier announced that the issue was “sensitive,” while efforts exerted by Prime Minister Hariri to come up with a way to bring together the views of Aoun and Berri was still under discussion.

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