Lebanon: Without a President

Lebanon has been without a president since the deadline for the election passed on November 24, 2007. The political bickering continues. A number of foreign initiatives have been launched to resolve the conflict issues but have so far been unsuccessful. The latest is the Arab League initiative, which is in progress this week. Here is a sample of Lebanese bloggers’ reflection about the presidential vacuum and about the resulting political situation.

To resolve the standoff, Beirut Letter suggested a parliamentary re–election that will bring new representatives who will recreate the governing bodies including that of the presidency:

Maybe what we need now are new elections. After all, that was what the opposition was calling for over a year ago. Given the impasse we are in, maybe it is finally time to consider it seriously and this time we can use the electoral law proposed by the national committee last year. Then everyone can stop talking about illegitimate majorities and focus on finding a solution for all of Lebanon.

Doubting the effectiveness and the outcome of the latest Arab initiative, Bilad el Sham predicts that it will not be successful and that it will end up a failure just like its predecessors:

Mark my words, the wonderful Arab initiative will follow the same pattern as all the others: the over-enthusiastic embrace (currently); the ‘unprecedented’ visit (again); the postponement of the previously hailed unprecedented visit (again); more of same; the declaration of the success of the Arab Initiative; the mutual recrimination and laying of blame for its failure…..Incipit the next European initiative.

Marxist from Lebanon discusses the presidency itself by elaborating its historical as well as its current constitutional powers. He explains how these powers were reduced by the Taif Agreement which ended the civil war in Lebanon in 1989. He makes the point that the issue of presidential election is just the tip of the iceberg and that there are deeper problems which will not be resolved by electing a president:

The issue is not there still. What can a president do between two coalitions that have crippled the nation for more than a year. Aoun and Harriri Jr. seem more powerful than the future elected president. The president might develop schizo syndromes to keep both sides satisfied. In fact, such a president, amidst two giants, is nothing. He is just a pebble, and the battle between both coalitions remains active. So, again, what is the fuss over the president? We have been without a president for weeks and weeks. Who needs a president again? (other than the greedy politicians!!!!) We all know that the presidential chair is not the way out from this deadlock because all the current political parties are greedy for power at the Proletariat’s expense.

Beirut to Beltway states and discusses the Arab League’s initiative. He writes about the problems that may face this initiative:

But the devil is in the details. Syria can say it backs this plan, but we're still stuck as to how the election will be carried out. The opposition does not recognize the constitutionality of the Lebanese cabinet, which has forwarded a proposal to amend the constitution, enabling the election of the army general. Hizbullah's media machine has been portraying the prime minister as an American agent. Nasrallah in his latest media outing gave Siniora 10 days before an anti-government plan is implemented, a plan that reportedly does not have the approval of his buddies in the opposition.

Jeha’s Nail looks at all political parties in the country as a whole and declares that they have accomplished nothing the past three years:

… And what do all the parties involved have to show for all their efforts since 2005? Nothing. They are all bankrupt…

Lebanon Update also wrote about the Arab League’s initiative, explaining that it proposes to return to the presidency some of the political powers it lost in the Taif:

This solution will give the president much more power and basically overthrows the Taif Agreement, something that March 8 was considering recently, while March 14 has always vehemently opposed any change to Taif. Now, however, March 14 is fully behind the proposal of the Arab League, possibly because they got the candidate it wanted, namely general Michel Suleiman. They must feel confident he is on their side.

This is a just a snapshot of the situation in Lebanon without presidency. Check back next week for more.

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