Lebanon appoints new army chief amid rising challenges

Lebanon appoints new army chief amid rising challenges
2 min read
09 March, 2017
Lebanon's cabinet on Wednesday appointed a new army chief, General Joseph Aoun, ending a deadlock that twice forced an extension of the term of the military's sitting head.
Joseph Aoun now leads Lebanon's armed forces [LAF photo]

Lebanon's cabinet on Wednesday appointed a new army chief, General Joseph Aoun, ending a deadlock that twice forced an extension of the term of the military's sitting head.

Aoun led an army unit which served along the border with Israel and is now stationed in the volatile town of Arsal, bordering Syria.

According to the Lebanese Army website, Aoun was born in 1964. He holds degrees in political science and military service.

The appointment of the successor to General Jean Kahwaji is the first by Lebanon's cabinet since it was formed after President Michel Aoun's election in October.

A ministerial source told AFP the appointment had "the consensus of all the political forces", adding the new chief was "well-known and removed from any political conflicts".

Michel Aoun, himself a former chief of Lebanon's army, is not related to Lebanon's president, although the two served together in the military.

Lebanon's already fractious political scene has faced tensions linked to the war in neighbouring Syria since March 2011.

A political stalemate left the country without a president for over two years until Michel Aoun was elected under a compromise deal in October 2016.

Under the deal, rival Saad Hariri was named prime minister and he formed a cabinet in December.

Lebanon is due to hold parliamentary elections in May 2017, the first legislative vote in eight years, after the body twice extended its own mandate.