Lebanon's Last Chance

  • 12 November 2007

Despite the announcement by Speaker of Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri last Saturday over the postponement of the parliamentary session, which was originally scheduled for today (Monday) to the 21st of November for the election of the President of the Republic, the agreement on the nomination of the presidential candidate could still take place. However, all indicators suggest that this is the last chance for settling the issue, and that the country could enter a dangerous and critical turning point. Different indicators show that this critical issue could even usher in a civil war, which the country has already faced from 1975 to 1990. It is for the third time that the parliamentary session for the election of the president has been postponed. The next session will be held two days before the end of the mandate of the present president, Emile Lahoud, i.e. on November 24, 2007. Therefore, Lebanese politicians should agree on the name of the next president in this session because if they fail to do so or face opposition over an agreement on a consensual candidate for the president, a big crisis could breakout in the country. The ruling “majority” coalition finds that it has the right in these times to elect a president on the basis of the "half plus one" formula, whereas the opposition is determined to elect a consensual president and has threatened that it will not recognize any president who is elected on the "half plus one" formula. This means that the present Lebanese situation is not only facing a division between the majority and the opposition but also between two governments and two legislatures.

Despite the ambiguity of the existing political situation in Lebanon, one can find some positive signs that raise the prospects of an agreement. The parliamentary session, which was scheduled for today, was postponed after an agreement was reached between the Speaker of the House Nabih Berri, and the leader of the “majority” coalition, Saad Hariri. The stand taken by Bkerki on the refusal of the election of the President on the basis of a simple majority and its reiteration of the necessity for an agreement over the appointment of a president, in addition to the call of Hariri and Berri  to the Christians to agree on a shortlist of names is also a positive sign. The most important thing would be the transformation of these positive indicators into a scientific and real project, so that Lebanon overcomes its political nightmare that began after the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon has no time for any further maneuvering and bargaining. Nowadays, all political forces face a real national crisis. They should give priority to Lebanese interest over all other interests and considerations. For this reason, one should not bet on the time factor to overcome obstacles, but it is necessary to resolve these problems before it is too late.