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Lebanon looks towards an uncertain future

What Lebanon really needs in the next presidential election; to look to the future and not bring up the past

Nayla Tueni

Published: Updated:

“Beware of manipulating the presidential election, which is the basis of all state institutions! Talk of a [presidential] vacuum or seeking [a presidential vacuum] for ulterior motives is an insult to the country’s, and people’s, dignity and proof of the parliament’s and officials’ weakness… electing a president is a patriotic and moral commitment.”

This is what Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said during Sunday’s sermon. This is what we all agree on these days, after the possibility of a presidential vacuum has become an issue. It is as if it’s the only means to confront the problem of the presidential deadline. Meeting the presidential deadline is tough and complicated amidst the circumstances surrounding us but the biggest difficulty lies in confronting the Lebanese if members of parliament - whether they belong to the March 14 or March 8 coalitions - admit that they are awaiting foreign directives to elect a Lebanese president.

Is he who’s powerful considered as such because he’s wise and internationally accepted? Or is he powerful thanks to his parliamentarian bloc and number of supporters?

Nayla Tueni

No sane man can deny the regional and international roles played in domestic policies as no country is totally free to decide its fate and options. What countries struggle over is the rate of freedom and the extent of foreign intervention. Whether the regime is presidential or a parliamentarian democratic one and whether a president is elected by the people or by the members of parliament who represent the people, there’s appreciation and respect of the popular will when it comes to choosing who represents the people and who meets their aspirations.

What we need

Upon this basis, we are not talking about a strong president for Lebanon. And of course we are not pushing towards having a weak president. But when it comes to our situation, the question is on the concepts of weakness and power. Is he who’s powerful considered as such because he’s wise and internationally accepted? Or is he powerful thanks to his parliamentarian bloc and number of supporters (which is always an unclear number)? Or thanks to his financial economic power? Or is he powerful thanks to his military power, considering most of our officials headed armed groups and militias during the war? Who decides strengths and weaknesses and how they are measured? There are no clear answers for these questions but we must think about them if we want a strong president who brings about a better future - a future that does not continue bring up everyone’s past as the time has come to put behind us the absurd wars we’ve witnessed. No one should claim to be more patriotic than others as everyone in Lebanon has paid huge a huge price and most of them dealt with foreign parties and many continue to work in politics thanks to these foreign parties that direct them.

A vacuum is an insult to the Lebanese and exchanging accusations and insults is further humiliation as it confirms immaturity when looking forward to the future and exposes the incapability of uniting towards establishing one Lebanon. Despite their vitality, current facts regarding the presidential elections are worrying as they indicate a huge gap in the vision of this aspired-to Lebanon.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on April 9, 2014.

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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

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.