It was the moment of truth on Monday. It was a day of decision-making that would transform Lebanon to another phase after a long presidential vacuum, political paralysis, constitutional destruction and massive institutional collapse.
The Lebanese people in the country and elsewhere waited for this moment and experienced mixed emotions from worry to joy, certainty and doubt and fear and hope. On the election day exaggerating positions, burying heads in the sand or making unclear statements were not tolerated.
After two-and-a-half years of crisis that almost destroyed all the country’s pillars of society, the economy, the services and infrastructure, voting for this or that candidate only required clear cut statements.
This is why, among many other reasons, I cannot do anything but respect the Lebanese people and An-Nahar readers, and tell them whoever I vote for must represent Lebanon’s pride and the power granted by citizens to members of Parliament.
An-Nahar has always been loyal to the basic principles and has paid the highest prices for them. Its martyrs Gebran Tueni and Samir Kassir walked a long path of dignity and freedom, and they remained loyal to their vows while performing their duties. Veteran journalist and role model Ghassan Tueni taught us that it delivers a message.
Based on this truth, I feel I am obliged to be completely frank about my convictions which make it necessary for me to remain up to the level of Gebran Tueni’s martyrdom and impose it on An-Nahar to remain loyal to the promise it made to Gebran and Ghassan Tueni as to remain a voice of freedom and representative of principles which marked its deep-rooted history.
Based on all this, I must be frank and say our opinion at An-Nahar newspaper regarding the views that presented the option to elect Michel Aoun for president which does not run with our fixed principles which the daily has acted upon when dealing with the presidential crisis. We cannot accept electing Aoun as a reward to those who obstructed electing a president and paralyzed the country and state.
We cannot accept electing Aoun as a reward to those who obstructed electing a president and paralyzed the country and stateNayla Tueni
Regardless of all the excuses justifying electing Aoun, such an option strengthens the logic of giving in to obstruction. We cannot ignore the dangerous influence of the internal defect which will result from an option that lacks essential democratic bases and that imposed two presidential candidates from the March 8 coalition, deprived others of their right to nominate, prevented a real competitive battle and ended with the famous formula of either electing Aoun for the presidency or suffering an endless presidential vacuum.
If the battle had been democratic, free and void of conditions and obstructions, we would’ve been the first to cheer the election of the leader of the biggest Christian bloc. If the democratic principles, which the Lebanese people had aspired to see as part of taking purely Lebanese decisions, had been adopted, we wouldn’t have been divided among supporters of March 8 or March 14 or others.
If decision making is purely Lebanese, the option to elect Aoun as president would not have come as a result of a balance of power that suffers from massive imbalance due to obstructions in favor of a well-known regional axis.
Even if it’s said that the Saudi delegation’s visit to Beirut provided Saudi Arabia’s support for a presidential settlement, this does not change the reality of the imbalance which led to imposing Aoun as a presidential option.
As for Aoun himself, we respect the values he represents and we acknowledge his legitimate right to the ambition of becoming president. However, this is one thing and electing him is another. There’s a deep-rooted dispute that distances us from Aoun’s path and policies and this has been on for years.
There’s no point in getting bogged down by the details of the dispute now. We appreciate the openness which we witnessed during the Free Patriotic Movement’s activity in recent days; however, major and fateful affairs such as neutralizing Lebanon from the Syrian war, the issues of war and peace, the issue of illegitimate arms, foreign policy, the state’s identity and exclusive right to possessing weapons, people’s affairs and crises have not been properly tackled and taken into consideration as transparency has been completely absent during the past months.
According to all this, and since we do not deceive, do not lie and respect the right to be different because it is the bases of opposition and democracy, I will cast a blank ballot paper. I wish the elected president the best of luck in his tenure as his success will be the best response to all those who opposed electing him or voiced reservations or fears or doubts about his election.
This article was first published in Annahar on Oct. 31, 2016.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni