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FPM Sets Stage for Street Protests amid Warning against ‘Political Coup’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Reuters file photo shows FPM founder Michel Aoun arriving at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, near Beirut, to attend a session of the national dialogue

Beirut- The Free Patriotic Movement is setting the stage for street protests under the pretext of attempting to restore constitutionality after the group boycotted cabinet sessions and rejected to attend parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a new president over the lack of consensus on FPM founder MP Michel Aoun.

The FPM is now carrying out preparations in its regional offices across Lebanon to mobilize its supporters, despite a warning by Christian officials that their protests would be tantamount to a “political coup.”

Sources that have been informed about the FPM’s preparations told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that its regional offices have gone on alert and are setting the stage in coordination with their allies, mainly the so-called Hezbollah that backs Aoun for the presidency, to resort to street protests.

But the Christian officials said that “there are preparations for a political coup … that is a clear coup against the constitution and an attempt to ignite civil war.”

Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said on Sunday that the best way to avoid escalation is to elect a president.

“The LF backs Aoun for the presidency,” he stressed.

Another LF official told Asharq al-Awsat that the party rejects street protests and that it has warned FPM officials against taking any step that would threaten civil peace.

Minister for Displaced Persons Alice Shabtini also said in remarks to Asharq al-Awsat that “Aoun is in a state of disarray and does not know what he is doing.”

She referred to a meeting held by the Ambassadors of France, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States and the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon with Prime Minister Tammam Salam last week.

Shabtini said the statement issued after the meeting is a confirmation that the major countries continue to back the government.

Asked about the alleged coordination between Aoun and Hezbollah over the planned protests, Shabtini said she didn’t want to resort to assumptions. But the minister stressed that the FPM and Hezbollah have political and security cooperation linked to Iran.