A Positive Step That Needs Repeating in Lebanon

  • 14 August 2008

The vote of confidence given lately by Lebanon's Parliament to the new government headed by PM Fouad Siniora is a positive step on the road to ending political tension in the country. What is particularly significant is the size of the confidence vote, 100 out of 107 present in the chamber, which gives the government a strong parliamentary mandate that allows it to maneuver and act effectively in the coming period. What also is significant is that the vote came after heated debates over a period of a few days in which many and sharp differences of opinion between political forces surfaced. But what was obvious was that, in spite of their differences, Lebanese factions were careful not to expose the country to a political vacuum or to weaken its institutions and their roles. Specifically, political factions showed that they were capable of devising middle-of-the-road solutions despite the acuteness of the problems they faced.

The new Lebanese government will have difficult tasks ahead. Primarily, it needs to re-emphasize the unity and coexistence between the Lebanese people after the injuries of the past. It also needs to re-build confidence, re-assert the importance of dialogue, manage conflicts rationally, and convince everyone that it is a government for the whole country.

Lebanon has numerous and sizeable challenges that are as important as the ones it overcame such as the Doha Agreement, the election of a new president, the formation of a new government, and the vote of confidence the government received. Foremost among the remaining challenges is the start of national dialogue about many highly sensitive issues like the relationship of the state with political forces, the resistance weapons and its relations with the state and the army, and other issues that require a continued commitment to a patriotic spirit for dealing with contentious matters.

Despite the latest positive steps, there remain many elements of danger that still face the country. The explosion in the city of Tripoli that killed and maimed many soldiers and civilians is a case in point. The message from the explosion to all Lebanese is quite clear: that danger still abounds and that there still are those who wish to return to the past and create causes for tension, violence, and confrontation. It is hoped that this message is an incentive for more cooperation and understanding between the Lebanese in the coming period in order to spoil efforts to sow crises and sedition and to abort attempts to roll back the clock.