Translation of excerpts from a televised interview with MTV, by: Assafir Daily (Lebanon) 10/04/02
General Michel Aoun appeared live yesterday from Paris and presented his views and positions regarding the developments in the region.
[Background]PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON (1988-1990)
Aoun finished his secondary education in 1955 and enrolled in the Military Academy as a cadet officer. Three years later, he graduated as an artillery officer in the Lebanese Army. In June 1984, nine years into Lebanon's civil war, General Aoun was named commander of the Lebanese Army. In the fall of 1988, Syria and others created a political crisis by preventing the Lebanese Parliament from convening to elect a new president (Lebanese presidents are not popularly elected). Damascus staunchly opposed the election of any candidate unwilling to sign a treaty recognizing Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. In order to break this impasse, just 15 minutes before the expiration of his term, outgoing president Amin Gemayel appointed Aoun as interim prime minister until Parliament could elect a new president. Although Aoun's government was constitutional, Syria backed the formation of a rival regime, supported by Syria's client militias. While Aoun's government was officially recognized by several countries, most countries declined to formally recognize either regime. In an effort to assert the authority of his government, Aoun sent his army to close illegal ports run by both Christian and pro-Syrian Muslim militias. After fighting that destroyed much of Beirut, General Aoun agreed to an Arab League-brokered cease-fire in September 1989. After the cease-fire, a Saudi-sponsored meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians was held in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to approve an agreement providing for the unification of Lebanon and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the country. Aoun rejected the agreement, mainly because it failed to provide for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon by a date certain. However, the agreement also stipulated constitutional changes that Aoun believed should be subject to a popular referendum, a procedure that Syria opposed. Foreseeing that the Lebanese parliamentarians would bow to Syria's will, Aoun dissolved Parliament, but it met anyway in Syrian-controlled territory in November 1989 to elect a new president and remove Aoun from office. Aoun remained in office, however, and fought Syrian-led efforts to remove him. In October of 1990, and with a green light from the United States and Israel, Aoun succumbed to Syria's superior military force and took refuge in the French Embassy. He was allowed to leave Lebanon for exile in France in August of 1991 and has been there ever since. He returned to Lebanon in May 2005 following the Hariri assassination and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. He founded the "Free Patriotic Movement", today headed by his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil.