Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Mar Bashara Ra’i has dealt presidential hopeful Michel Aoun a sharp rebuke after the FPM leader called on his supporters to take to the streets to pressure the government to appoint his men into critical military and security posts. On Sunday, Ra’i told Aoun to call off the protests, although it was unclear whether more substantive exchanges occurred given the two men’s rocky relationship.
Aoun was especially agitated after the largely lame duck cabinet passed sorely needed legislation to allocate $21 million to help export Lebanese agricultural products through a newly inaugurated sea route given that the war in Syria has effectively blocked all land routes.
On Thursday, Aoun boasted that the FPM and its March 8 allies led by Hezbollah “never fear confrontation” warning that “no one push us because we are not afraid”.
However aggressive his tone, observers believe his words have lost much of their weight and have grown apathetic to his unrelenting and shameless quest to become president.
Rai’s rebuke only served to further weaken Aoun’s position.
Prime Minister Tamam Salam also indirectly chided Aoun by stating that ‘no one should impose his position or his opinion on others’.
Sources close to the Lebanese daily Al Nahar said that Salam has expressed deep concern that Aoun’s unrelenting threats could disrupt Lebanon’s fragile religious and sectarian coexistence balance.
Citing an unnamed source, Al Nahar reported that Salam believed Aoun ‘put coexistence, which Lebanese believed in and worked hard for, in danger’. He also posed the question whether it would bode well for Christians to use force to gain rights that have been allegedly usurped.