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Saturday, May 05, 2007

On the Presidency

While it may be true that there we will see some level of perpetuation of the political paralysis in Lebanon even after Lahoud's term is over, it is also true that Lahoud himself has been an exceptional obstruction. Moreover, it is true that with the coming end of his term, Lebanon has to potentially deal with a new crisis stemming from the very divisive issue of electing a new president.

As previously mentioned, Lahoud has been a huge obstructive factor in Lebanese political affairs. He has refused to sign many many bills, refused to accept many foreign ambassadors (while he has also not outright rejected them), impeded the appointment of Lebanese ambassadors to foreign countries and obstructed the hiring and promotion of high level public servants, and so on and so forth...

That could all change with a vacant presidency or a March 14 president.

Moreover, huff and puff and do what they may, March 8 realizes that the government is legit. The constitution is clear and everything else is propaganda^. In fact, what we are seeing on their part is desperate politics. Hizbulla is desperate to protect its Syrian ally/master from the tribunal and to protect itself from the possible evolution (for better or worse) of Lebanon and its transition into a stable (?) post Syrian era. It needs to find a formula that guarantees its ability to operate within a framework as similar as possible to the one it operated in during the Syrian era. They are fighting tooth and claw for that.

Similarly, Aoun is desperate because he is seeing the deadline for the presidency approach and his chances for the post are not increasing.
Both are fighting an uphill battle against the forward motion of time.

But what can they all do? The March 8 alliance knows that within the rules of the game, i.e, the constitution, all they can ever hope to do is impede the election of a president, pending an agreement or compromise that does not seem likely, or that will come at Aoun's expense. As I might have mentioned before, that vacuum in the presidency leaves the president's authority in the cabinet's hands*. That explains one aspect of the need that the March 8 alliance sees for "breaking" the cabinet by denying it legitimacy and trying to force it to resign.

But once again, then what? March 8 until now has no constructive strategy from within the bounds of the constitution and the law.
Not to be restricted by such ridiculous things as laws and constitutions, their alternatives are simple. Early elections, transforming Lebanon's parliamentary system into a presidential one (for one time only of course)...

At this point, I give up...
March 8 must know that their demands are unreasonable and more importantly unacceptable to the "ruling majority". What matters now is that the presidential endgame is approaching. However, try as I might I can't find a logical strategy that March 8 can pursue in the endgame.

Short of spreading chaos.

Footnotes From the Lebanese Constitution:
- المادة 95 (المعدلة بالقانون الدستوري الصادر في 9/11/1943 وبالقانون الدستوري الصادر في 21/9/1990) على مجلس النواب المنتخب على أساس المناصفة بين المسلمين والمسيحيين اتخاذ الإجراءات الملائمة لتحقيق إلغاء الطائفية السياسية وفق خطة مرحلية وتشكيل هيئة وطنية برئاسة رئيس الجمهورية، تضم بالإضافة إلى رئيس مجلس النواب ورئيس مجلس الوزراء شخصيات سياسية وفكرية واجتماعية. مهمة الهيئة دراسة واقتراح الطرق الكفيلة بإلغاء الطائفية وتقديمها إلى مجلسي النواب والوزراء ومتابعة تنفيذ الخطة المرحلية.وفي المرحلة الانتقالية: أ- تمثل الطوائف بصورة عادلة في تشكيل الوزارة. ب- تلغى قاعدة التمثيل الطائفي ويعتمد الاختصاص والكفاءة في الوظائف العامة والقضاء والمؤسسات العسكرية والأمنية والمؤسسات العامة والمختلطة وفقاً لمقتضيات الوفاق الوطني باستثناء وظائف الفئة الأولى فيها وفي ما يعادل الفئة الأولى فيها وتكون هذه الوظائف مناصفة بين المسيحيين والمسلمين دون تخصيص أية وظيفة لأية طائفة مع التقيد بمبدأي الاختصاص والكفاءة.

- المادة 62 (المعدلة بالقانون الدستوري الصادر في 21/9/1990)
في حال خلو سدة الرئاسة لأي علة كانت تناط صلاحيات رئيس الجمهورية وكالة بمجلس الوزراء.

In English:

Article 95 [National Committee](1) The first Chamber or Deputies which is elected on the basis of equality between Muslims and Christians takes the appropriate measures to realize the abolition of political confessionalism according to a transitional plan. A National Committee is to be formed, headed by the President of the Republic, including, in addition to the President of the Chamber of Deputies and the Prime Minister, leading political, intellectual, and social figures.(2) The tasks of this Committee are to study and propose the means to ensure the abolition of confessionalism, propose them to the Chamber of Deputies and the Ministers, and supervise the execution of the transitional plan.(3) During the transitional phase:
a. The confessional groups are to be represented in a just and equitable fashion in the formation of the Cabinet.
b. The principle of confessional representation in public servicejobs, in the judiciary, in the military and security institutions, and in public and mixed agencies are to be cancelled in accordance with the requirements of national reconciliation; they shall be replaced by the principle of expertise and competence. However, Grade One posts and their equivalents are exempt from this rule, and the posts must be distributed equally between Christians and Muslims without reserving any particular job for any confessional group but rather applying the principles of expertise and competence

Article 62 [Vacancy]Should the Presidency become vacant for any reason whatsoever, the Council of Ministers exercises the powers of the President by delegation.


fubar said...

Good summary.

Bet you never thought a year ago that you would have to become a Constitutional analyst. = )

Blacksmith Jade said...

"Short of spreading chaos."

...and chaos is what we should expect from the Opposition's campaign.