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Lebanon: Upcoming Presidential Elections

The Lebanese constitution stipulates that the parliament should convene and elect a new president within a period of at least a month before the end of the tenure of the presiding president. The term of the current President Emille Lahoud will be over in November of this year. Therefore, it is only expectable that the elections should be the topic of discussion of many of the blogs in the Lebanese blogosphere.

Last week, it was hinted in the media that the commander of the Lebanese armed forces General Michael Suleiman could be a candidate for the presidency. But for this to happen the constitution would have to be amended since General Suleiman is currently serving in what is classified as a Category One public service job. The constitution states that public servants in such a category cannot run for presidency. To be eligible, they must have resigned or retired and had nothing to do with their job for at least a period of two years.

The following selection of blog posts discuss the candidates in the upcoming presidential election, the foreign intervention in this election, comment on the proposed constitutional amendments and other stuff of the sort.

What does the constitution say about the presidential powers, on electing a president and on amending the constitution. Blacksmiths of Lebanon posted the articles of the constitution regarding electing a president and the presidential powers.

Beirut to Beltway posted the constitutional articles on how the constitution can be amended and added:

Here's what the constitution says about amending the constitution! In short, it cannot be done without a draft law submitted by the cabinet. It also cannot be discussed or vote on “except when a majority of two thirds of the members lawfully composing the Chamber are present.”

For Lebanonesque, the next president has already been chosen, without elections, and the Maronite Patriarch is to blame:

The powers-that-be have decided General Michel Suleiman/Sleiman will be the next president of Lebanon. OK Lebanese, the goose is cooked. The Maronite Patriarch seems to have made another huge blunder but who’s counting. Most Lebanese will grumble while the rest will say those dangerous words: “this time, it’s different” (from Lahoud and Aoun).

Tears for Lebanon also reports that General Suleiman is going to be the next president from what is being said by most people:

With my ear to the ground and listening to what is being said around me most people are thinking that Suleiman is going to be the next president of Lebanon. It's funny how this guy just slipped in while every one was looking some place else. From what I am hearing most people think that he stands on middle ground, and he will not rock the boat.

One controversial issue involved in the upcoming election is the quorum necessary for the parliamentary session to legally elect a president. The argument is whether a two third is necessary or an absolute majority (51 per cent) is sufficient. On this Streets of Beirut says:

Do we need to read the constitution in order to know what is the required quorum to elect a president for Lebanon? The answer is no. All we need to do is to figure out the routing that would take Lebanon through the hardest possible path and then we extract the answer. Indeed, every phase the country went through has been a hard one resulting from a sparking of differences in opinion between constituencies.

Bob’s Blog states his reasons for opposing the General’s candidacy:

Personally I am against his candidacy. I think one general every decade is more than enough! And after our experience with General Lahoud I will need at least two or three decades before I could even consider a former general as the president of Lebanon.

What are the chances of General Michael Suleiman becoming our next president?
On the one hand, Lebanon Update sees General Suleiman’s chances to become the next president diminishing:

How fast the pace of change in Lebanon: last week it seemed that army commander Michel Suleiman was destined to become the new president. Since yesterday, however, opposition against his candidacy has increased so much that his chances are becoming less and less.

While, on the other hand, Beirut Spring sees that the General’s chance are actually increasing especially since the USA administration seems to be opening up to him:

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the director of the US state department’s office of Levant affairs told Alhayat that the US “doesn’t mind” changing the Lebanese constitution and that what matters are “the qualities” of the candidate. She even said that the candidate shouldn’t have “a strong link” with Hezbollah, a step down from “no links at all” which meets Suleiman halfway.

Finally, and on a different note, The Inner Circle reports that despite all the political deadlocks Lebanon still has a vibrant summer nightlife and so asks:

Are Lebanese fed up with politics?

Well, it’s the talk of the town, and no better time than today, where politicians feel the public may not be helping their so-called leaders with the current situation, you hardly hear enthusiasm for people to rebel or fight for a cause via each medias outlet by the use of emotional patriotism, and funny enough, it’s only then, when Lebanese society blooms.

More on the upcoming Lebanese presidential election next week. Take care and see you.

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