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The will of the Lebanese people - has the nation spoken?

It’s as if the Lebanese people are afraid of that scientific knowledge, noting that they believe they are the cradle of all civilization and cultures

Rima Maktabi

Published: Updated:

Numbers are among the many enigmas of Lebanon. Scrutinizing statistics and consensus is worse than scrutinizing corruption and criminality during the civil war, international relationships and dealing with foreign countries altogether.

It’s as if the Lebanese people are afraid of knowing, noting that they believe they are the cradle of all civilization and cultures.

How many Lebanese Christians are there? What about Sunni? How many Shiaa? How about Druze? What is the exact population of Lebanon? How many Lebanese are living abroad? What’s the mortality rate? Even the dead are not counted as they should be. We have grown accustomed to dead people voting in municipal and parliamentary elections because of the inaccuracy of electoral polls.

Forget about all that, here is an easier one, what’s the net worth of this leader or that? How much money did he invest in politics? Perhaps the biggest question is what’s the number of supporters of Samir Geagea, Michel Aoun, Nabih Berri, and Hassan Nasrallah, Walid Jumblatt or any other leader?

All these questions occurred to me as I watched General Michel Aoun take office after gaining the confidence and votes of the parliament after two years with no one holding the presidential office.

The new-old president entered the “people’s palace”, that is the presidential palace, having received the backing of the people of Lebanon – through the representation of the 128 deputies.

There were 83 deputies that elected President Michel Aoun. But does that figure represent the majority of the population? Nobody knows.

There were 83 deputies that elected President Michel Aoun. But does that figure represent the majority of the population? Nobody knows.

Rima Maktabi

The presidential election came at a time of great distress for the political leaders of the country. Some of them had grown old, others went bankrupt, either politically or financially.

Some lost their popularity because they simply didn’t do anything for Lebanon, and they didn’t deliver their promises in the last few years. Even if all the deputies of Future Movement/Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal voted for Aoun at the behest of their leader Saad Hariri, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all their constituents want Michel Aoun to be their president.

As a matter of fact, it is said that Hariri struggled to convince his own supporters. And even if Samir Geagea, along with his supporters were convinced that the victory of Aoun is a victory for the Lebanese forces too, the 26-year-old Christian conflict is bound to keep a large majority unsatisfied and not unconvinced.

And on the opposite side, the Shiite-Aoun love story has convinced the majority of the supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement that Michele Aoun is the only hope to get the country out of its predicament.

Thus, when the deputies from the Amal movement were reluctant to elect Aoun, they didn’t fully express the will of their constituents. Hence, it is difficult to frame the wants and demands of the Lebanese people or the Christian population.

Nevertheless, it is certain that the Lebanese people have many demands and aspirations that may start with electing a president and forming a viable government, but it doesn’t stop there.

The people want a president and a government that can provide the simplest of things like electricity, water, cleaning services to pick up the one-year-old garbage stacked on the streets, giving workers their full rights, creating job opportunities for Lebanon’s youth, developing the marginalized areas and helping the farmers prosper, providing security and peace for the citizens, reviving the tourism sector and developing the economy.

The people want to see the implementation of modern and new laws, and then electing a parliament that reflects their demands, diversity, and opinion.

Many didn’t quite support the general in his presidential race, nevertheless, they were happy to witness a new era. The president made his dream come true. It’s up to him now to turn the dreams of the Lebanese people into a reality.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author of this article are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English’s point-of-view.

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Rima Maktabi is an award-winning journalist known for her reporting of crisis. She began her career in Lebanon before joining international news outlets including Al Arabiya and CNN. She is currently a senior anchor and roving correspondent at Al Arabiya News channel.

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