A delegation from the Strong Republic Bloc of the Lebanese Forces (LF) reiterated on Monday the urgency of preserving the Army’s leadership, as the retirement of Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun on January 10 draws near.

Speaking at the seat of the Maronite church in Bkerke following a meeting with Patriarch Bechara al-Rai, MP Pierre Bou Assi said the army command and the presidency of the republic are the most pressing issues at a time when Lebanon is facing the risk of war with Israel in light of daily confrontations between Hezbollah and the Israeli army across the southern border.

“The leadership of the army is important since the military is the sole institution maintaining Lebanon’s stability and security,” Bou Assi said, stressing that “changing the army commander under such circumstances is unacceptable, and appointing a new army commander without electing a president for the republic is also unacceptable.”

He said, “what is required is a commander with high military expertise. That is why the Strong Republic Bloc proposed a law to extend the term of the current army commander.”

Regarding the war in Gaza and the heightened clashes on the southern border, Bou Assi said that while the bloc and Patriarch Rai “condemn the massacres committed against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” they call on the government to implement Resolution 1701, noting that “previous governments supported the resolution but failed to implement it.”

In an uncompromising statement on Sunday, Rai rejected any “threat to the stability of the army command” and criticized “the parliament for not fulfilling its constitutional role.”

“The army command must remain unchanged until a new president is elected,” Rai unequivocally declared in his Sunday sermon.

In addition to Bou Assi, the delegation of the Strong Republic Bloc included MPs Georges Adwan, Melhem Riachi, Neemat Frem, Elie Khoury, Ghattas Khoury, Ziad Hawat, and the Head of the Office for Communication with Spiritual Authorities, Antoine Murad.