Lebanon Waiting for a Solution

  • 10 December 2007

There are strong indicators that the crisis over the presidency in Lebanon is approaching a solution with the commencement of the parliamentary session tomorrow. Lebanese MP Robert Ghanem has stated that he has drafted a petition for amendment to Article 49 of the Lebanese Constitution, in order to facilitate the election of army commander General Michel Suleiman as President of the Republic, and has sent the draft legislation to the Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri. Ghanem expressed optimism that opposition members of parliament would ratify the draft law, alongside members of the majority coalition. In a related development, an opposition MP of the Amal movement—Ali Bazzi—has confirmed the readiness of the opposition on the signing of the proposed draft law. Media sources revealed that in accordance with a framework devised last Friday, Speaker Nabih Berri— after the passage of the bill in parliament—would send it to the Council of ministers, who will adopt it as law, following which Shiite ministers who had resigned would return and take part in the parliamentary session. When the parliament receives the government project, Berri would call upon the parliament to convene in order to vote on it, and would later hold a special session to elect General Michel Suleiman as president. All parliamentary parties will be present and will participate in the election of Suleiman.

This information indicates that Lebanon is moving towards finding a solution to the presidential crisis. However, there are still major obstacles on the way. The opposition believes that the present government is illegitimate, and so it cannot take a decision over amending the constitution. Therefore, the problem over amending the constitution and electing Suleiman as president of the country persists, although the opposition and the majority have agreed upon a common candidate for the presidency.

Therefore, more complications bedevil the issue, in spite of a national consensus on the successor to former president Emile Lahoud. These complications would further escalate the general state of unease gripping Lebanon.

This would necessitate more concessions from both the opposition and the majority coalitions in order to agree on a mechanism for amending the constitution, as has already been successful in the case of the nomination of Suleiman. This would entail greater interaction between the two parties in the national interest of the country.

Lebanon is at a dangerous crossroads that would require political forces to find alternatives to reach common ground in the interest of the nation, as well as to start filling the schism that has developed between the government and the opposition, so that Lebanon overcomes the dangerous phase, since the assassination of its former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.