Facebook Twitter



Army Gen. Michel Aoun, head of the Christian military cabinet in a dual government, has denied Moslem charges that he is blocking a solution to Lebanon's month-old constitutional crisis.

Aoun also called during an interview for Lebanon to regain its sovereignty, which he said had been lost to Syria. Syria is ruling Lebanon "in a detailed way that includes day-to-day affairs," he said.Aoun's rival, acting Prime Minister Salim Hoss, a Sunni Moslem, and outgoing Parliament Speaker Hussein Husseini, a Shiite Moslem, charged that Aoun is an obstacle to electing a new president.

Parliament's failure to elect a head of state or new speaker is threatening to split the country into sectarian states after 13 years of civil war.

"I am not an obstacle, I am a shield that prevents the appointment of a president. A president for Lebanon should be elected, not appointed," Aoun said Tuesday in Baabda, northeast of Beirut.

The 52-year-old commander, who in 1966 attended an advanced artillery course at Fort Sill, Okla., said his military cabinet will continue to rule "until a new president is elected."

"We shall preserve Lebanon's unity," he said.

Former President Amin Gemayel, shortly before his six-year term expired on Sept. 22, appointed Aoun to head a six-man interim military cabinet to rule pending election of a new head of state.

Aoun's appointment was immediately rejected by Moslem and leftist parliamentarians representing Syrian-policed provinces. They pledged allegiance to Hoss, the head of government during Gemayel's term.

The appointment also violated an unwritten national covenant dating to Lebanon's independence from France in 1943 that gave the premiership to the Sunnis, the presidency to the Maronite Christians and the post of house speaker to the Shiites.

The 76-man Parliament has failed three times since Aug. 18 to elect a president due to a boycott by 27 Christian deputies that prevented the single-chamber house from mustering the 51-member quorum to convene.

The Christians say they boycotted Parliament to block the election of a pro-Syrian president who would make Lebanon a satellite for its neighbor.

Parliament on Tuesday also failed to convene and elect a successor to Speaker Husseini.

Aoun blamed "outside powers" for the failure to vote in a new president and partitioning his cabinet.

"The Syrians rule the streets, the police stations and the governors in the hope of dominating the head of state," he said.

The Syrian government of President Hafez Assad is the principal power in Lebanon with 40,000 troops deployed in about 70 percent of the nation.