16th time a charm?

February 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Image of the Lebanese Parliament from al-Jazeera.)

The Lebanese Parliament convened today for the 15th time since late November in an attempt to elect a new president, but an agreement could not be reached. The Opposition and the Loyalists (aka the Majority) have agreed to elect Army Chief Michel Suleiman as president, but the Loyalists have rejected the Opposition’s demand for veto power on governmental decisions and this disagreement has delayed the election process.

Al-Jazeera reports that Shi’i Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri has postponed the vote until March 11. In a statement, Berri said that the extra time will allow for more efforts to reach a solution.

Who that?

The Opposition consists of the Shi’i parties Hezbullah and Amal as well as Michel Aoun’s Maronite Christian party. The Loyalists, also known as the March 14th coalition, consists of Sunni Sa’ad al-Hariri, Druze Walid Junblatt, and Maronite Christian Amin Gemayel among several other Christian parties.

The secretary general of the Arab League ‘Amr Moussa has been involved in negotiations with both sides and has been leading the “Arab efforts” to solve the Lebanese presidential crisis. The Opposition has been critical of Moussa, with Hezbullah remarking that Moussa needs to learn how to speak Arabic before he can solve Lebanon’s problems.

The Lebanese Constitution

Article 49 of the Lebanese Constitution describes the process by which the president is elected:

The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and by a twothirds majority of the Chamber of Deputies. After a first ballot, an absolute majority shall be sufficient. The President’s term is for six years. He may not be re-elected until six years after the expiration of his last mandate. No one may be elected to the Presidency of the Republic unless he fulfills the conditions of eligibility for the Chamber of Deputies.

From left: Sa’ad al-Hariri, Michel Aoun, ‘Amr Moussa, and Amin Gemayel from al-Nahar.

Flattering angles of Sa’ad al-Hariri and ‘Amr Moussa from al-Sharq al-Awsat.

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