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Michel Aoun: From Army Commander to Prime Minister of a Military Cabinet before Reaching Presidency - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut- The political path of the newly elected Lebanese President Michel Aoun started when he moved from heading the Lebanese Army command to chairing a military cabinet in 1988.

Later, Aoun left Lebanon after refusing to accept the Taif Accord and then returned following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the withdrawal of the Syrian Army from Lebanon in 2005, the date he led the biggest Christian parliamentary bloc.

Aoun (81) was born in a middle-class family in the town of Haret Hreik in the southern suburb of Beirut.

He joined the Military Academy in 1955 and became the Army Commander in 1984.

He is father to three daughters and has 10 grandchildren.

The first critical point in Aoun’s political life happened in 1988 when then President Amine Gemayel appointed him to form a government tasked with preparing the presidential elections that could not be held on time. At the time, Aoun formed a military cabinet and stayed at the Presidential Palace in Baabda for two years.

During those two years, Aoun fought the “Liberation War” against the Syrian forces, a battle that made of him a leader among the Christian community. He later fought the “War of Cancellation” against the Lebanese Forces with an aim to disarm the group.

Since that war, Christians were divided between two camps. However, years later, head of the LF Samir Geagea adopted the nomination of Aoun for president and played a central role in Monday’s election.

Aoun is also famous for refusing to accept the “Taif Accord” which was the result of an international intervention to end the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), saying the agreement hurts the Lebanese sovereignty.

Under a Syrian military escalation which targeted areas controlled by Aoun including the Presidential Palace, he fled in 1990 to the French Embassy in Beirut where he stayed 9 months before leaving to France where he lived for 15 years.

In 1996, during his presence in Paris, Aoun established the Free Patriotic Movement, which has been recently chaired by his son-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

The assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri in February 14, 2005 and the accompanying protests has forced the Syrian Army to withdraw from Lebanon, playing a direct role in the return of Aoun from his French exile.

In 2009, Aoun returned to Parliament heading a 20-member parliamentary bloc.

In a surprising move, Aoun signed in February 2006 a memorandum of understanding with the so-called Hezbollah.

Following years of enmity, he visited Syria three times and met with President of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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