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Selfish politics and foreign meddling leave Lebanon lost

The political situation in Lebanon is like a long tunnel and we don’t know when we’ll exit it and what price we’ll pay

Nayla Tueni

Published: Updated:

Perhaps the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) knows how to get its chief to the Baabda presidential palace or perhaps the FPM leader is planning the future for himself and his movement together. However, what’s certain is that their calculations, which may turn out right or wrong, are so far neither taking the country nor democracy in the right direction. Although casting a white ballot is democratic, it’s not a sign of a healthy March 8 coalition, nor is it a sign of healthy political life in the country.

It appears that the March 8 coalition has not agreed on one presidential candidate and that there’s no agreement or clear plan in place as it awaits the go ahead for FPM leader MP Michel Aoun to declare his presidential bid- a signal that may either come from Saad Hariri or the Saudi kingdom. This is not a sign of strength for March 8 and it’s completely contradictory with the call to reject foreign intervention in the presidential elections.

Let’s assume that this signal, be it positive or negative, was delayed, what would the March 8 coalition do? Will it resume its policy of casting a white ballot? Will it resume this policy of political bankruptcy? Or will it resort to the negative stance of obstructing legal quorum - which Speaker Nabih Berri insists on in all sessions despite it obstructing the political process and landing the country in a presidential vacuum.

Perhaps March 8 is acting per the logic of “I’ll go down and take my enemies with me” without specifying whether its partners in the country are those enemies

Nayla Tueni

A while ago, there were reports on what kind of vacuum suits March 8 as it awaits the results of developments in Syria, of Syrian presidential elections, of how the international community deals with these elections and of American-Iranian negotiations. March 8 also seeks to frustrate March 14 parties which fear a political and security vacuum as it doesn’t serve their interests. Here we are today, stepping into this reality as we watch March 8 push towards it. It’s a long tunnel and we don’t know when we’ll exit it and what price we’ll pay. Making concessions will thus be imposed on us and we will have no role in choosing a new president; we may not at all be consulted regarding the president who will be brought to us via regional and international deals.

So MP Michel Aoun awaits that signal before he announces his candidacy for a definite victory. But he hasn’t specified how long he’ll wait as he adopts the policy of “I or no one else” and obstructs all Maronite MPs who revolve within the March 8 orbit from running for presidency. He may know - or maybe he doesn’t - that all March 8 parties welcome his desire to wait and obstruct politics, not because they love him but because this suits their interests as well as their regional sponsors’ interests.

The current question is: how long will they wait? What are the alternative solutions other than obstruction and landing the country in a vacuum? Who bears the responsibility for this vacuum? Perhaps March 8 is acting per the logic of “I’ll go down and take my enemies with me” without specifying whether its partners in the country are those enemies. March 8 would also be confirming that it’s turning into a tool for all foreign parties, rather than just for some of them as it once was.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on April 30, 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

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