Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

The other Nasrallah and the Presidential elections

Posted by worriedlebanese on 19/11/2007

082.jpegDuring this week-end, everybody who’s anybody in Lebanon (and all the rest) were busy answering three questions:
1- Was the patriarch’s list of presidential candidates a written one or an oral one?
2- How many people were on the list?
3- Who exactly was on the list?
There were obviously many conflicting answers because none of the reports or statements could be verified; all those who were directly concerned by the new procedure for the presidential election refused to give a full answer (those sides were: Nabih Berri, Saad Hariri, Nasrallah Sfeir and the French foreign office). Nobody seemed really shocked by this fact or any part of the new procedure. For those who are not familiar with the new procedure, here are a couple of words on it.
For starters , it’s not a legally binding agreement. It doesn’t change the constitutional framework but transforms it into a formal procedure that covers an informal one that contradicts everyone of its underlying principles. This change of procedure was accepted by the Lebanese leadership (the zu’ama, the presidential candidates). I’m not quite sure who came up with the last format but here it is: the Maronite Patriarch prepares a list of presidential candidates from which Nabih Berri (representing the opposition) and  Saad Hariri (representing the pro-government parties) choose Lebanon’s next president. The Lebanese parliament would then be conveyed for the MPs to elect the sole “consensual” candidate. 
This procedure is not really new. A similar one sprang up in 1988. At the time, the Syrian and American leadership had urged the Maronite Patriarch to give them a list of presidential candidates from which they would choose the future Lebanese President. He handed in a list of three names, and they chose a fourth person: Michael Daher.
When the change of procedure was suggested to the Patriarch, he did not object to it by principle. He was just apprehensive of the 1988 precedent and wanted assurance that this time, his choice would be taken into account. So after all those who were involved by this change of procedure assured him they would abide by his list he complied. Not for a moment did he worry about the implications of his act on the political system. “Necessity has no law” he must have thought. And the Lebanese have grown accustomed to “adapting” the law to the “present circumstances” on one condition, that it is publicly mentioned that the measure was exceptional and for one time only…

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