Lebanon needs a strong president, not a president by force
Lebanon has had presidential vacuum for two and a half years now
Lebanon has had presidential vacuum for two and a half years now. Lebanese political parties have so far failed to reach an agreement over who will become president. This is because the party which is the most powerful group right now does not want a strong president but a president who is restrained and who is thus incapable of manipulating higher commands which are issued by others, such as, for example, the administration of Vilayet-e-Faqih. This has been the case particularly after Hezbollah came under Syrian tutelage (after Syrian troops exited the country) and began to monitor politics and security institutions and even receive the latter’s reports and coordinate their activity.
In 2005 and 2009, Hezbollah and the March 8 coalition failed to secure a majority of parliamentary votes in order to install a president of their choice who could be controlled by them. Former President Michel Sleiman wore them out as he took independent stances without seeking council with anyone. They do not want to repeat this experience and they’d rather have a president whose affiliation is clear and whose activity is restrained.
Even Christian leader Michel Aoun is not under their control and he can break free any minute and take measures that do not suit Hezbollah’s policy. Thus came Speaker Nabih Berri’s package proposal to end the presidential deal. Hezbollah approves of this package and if it hadn’t, it would’ve acted in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Aoun, who continuously talks about the importance of having a strong president, is begging to be nominated as president and working hard to satisfy everyone. His statements on the Sunni sect seem fake, in my opinion, and he seems to be obstructing the election of a president as I believe he hopes to become president - even if by force.
As Lebanese people, we don’t want to reach the same conclusion which Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt reached when he said on Twitter that it’s time to elect any president to escape the presidential vacuumNayla Tueni
Meanwhile, the stance has shifted regarding Future Movement leader Saad Hariri whose government was toppled by Hezbollah and who was isolated and essentially exiled. Hezbollah, which was once joyful over Hariri’s political and financial decline, has now thrown the ball of the presidency into his court. Everyone is waiting for a statement him and this makes him the strong one here despite previous misfortunes. However, Hariri also confronts many challenges, particularly within his own coalition, and he also confronts the challenge of withstanding the axis which once toppled him and violated the 2008 Doha Agreement.
The situation also embarrasses Hezbollah, primarily among its allies and also among its rivals, but particularly with Marada Movement leader Sleiman Franjieh and the supporters who have frequently heard a rhetoric that opposes Hariri. It also embarrasses Nabih Berri who’s been cornered in a position where he opposes the Christian majority and Bkerké’s will.
All this corners everyone and puts them in a situation where they seek a way out. However, as Lebanese people we don’t want to reach the same conclusion which Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt reached when he said on Twitter that it’s time to elect any president to escape the presidential vacuum.
This article was first published in Annahar on Oct. 17, 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