"I do not wish to defend President Lahoud," he said.
"I have already said that he may have managed to extend his mandate, but he wouldn't be able to finish it. However, changing heads of states is no simple matter," cautioned Aoun.
"We have time, we must agree on a program. I don't want to start on something without knowing where it will lead us," he said.
Aoun, aged 70 and who spent the past 15 years in exile, gained considerable clout when he took 23 seats Sunday in the third round of Lebanon's four-stage polls against an anti-Syrian coalition grouping Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri, the son of slain premier Rafiq Hariri.
The election is the first since Syria, after a 29-year military presence, withdrew its troops and security agents in April in the face of local and international pressure following Hariri's murder in February.
The opposition is seeking to topple Lahoud whose mandate was prolonged by three years after Damascus insisted last September that the constitution be amended.
The decision can only be reversed if two-thirds of parliament's 128 members vote for a new amendment to the constitution.
Under Lebanon's multi-confessional political system, the presidency is earmarked for a Maronite Christian while the premier's office is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker's post goes to a Shiite Muslim.
Aoun indicated he was ready to work something out with the opposition to help shorten Lahoud's mandate.
"I am also ready to put the final touches to my program in consultation with others -- Walid Jumblatt, Saad Hariri and other lawmakers," said Aoun, who has vowed to work for sectarian reconciliation in a country which fought a 15-year war.
He said his program included "an independent foreign policy", "the integration of the Lebanese diaspora in decision-making" and fighting rampant corruption in Lebanon.
"I will not go back on my demand for an international audit of Lebanon's public debt even if it's not welcome by the political oligarchy. I'm not accusing anybody but people have the right to know where their money went," he added.
"I'm not accusing anybody and especially not Rafiq Hariri. An audit could do him justice. Maybe it was not a personal failure, maybe Syria was responsible," he added.
"Donor countries demand that we fight corruption and apply transparency to help Lebanon deal with its debt."
Lebanon ran up a 35.5-billion-dollar public debt by end-March 2005, according to World Bank estimates.
Donors have conditioned further aid to Lebanon on thorough reforms and fighting corruption. They also insist that control over private and public funds be kept separate.
Rafiq Hariri was prime minister of pro-Syrian governments between 1994 and 2004 -- with a two-year hiatus -- and the owner of multi-national companies, some of which undertook the reconstruction of post-war Lebanon.
His son Saad, who has taken over part of the empire, insists he wants to end corrupt practices in Lebanon.
Turning to the disarmament of the Shiite militia Hezbollah, as demanded by a UN resolution http://www.lgic.org/en/help_1559.php and Washington, Aoun said "it must happen through dialogue with Hezbollah, with Lebanon's priorities in mind and not because of an agenda dictated from outside.
"But at the end of the day, we cannot have two armies, it's not acceptable for the unity or dignity of the state," he said.