Saturday, October 27, 2007

Electing a Lebanese President 102 - A: Political Alignments

While the previous post dealt with the constitutional constraints and procedures in electing a President, there remains the issue of why the interpretation of the constitutional text has generated so much conflict.

In looking at the positions taken by either side, it remains essential to understand the differences in intention attributed to what otherwise may appear to be common stances. These differences can be broken down to two classes: those interpretations based on precedent-setting long-term sectarian interests; and those based on the current (short-term) political alignments.

On the short-term political interests, the interpretations are easy enough to decipher. In one corner lies the March 14th Anti-Syrian Parliamentary bloc which holds enough Parliamentary seats (68/128) to claim majority [even after a series of assassinations - widely attributed to the Syrian regime - which diminished their numbers] and which has, for the most part, called for the election of a President on the basis of 65 votes or more [a legal choice by all interpretations if the election occurs on, or after, Nov 12th] .

As a political platform, the group has called for a President capable of upholding and promulgating the Cedar Revolution [which continues to seek the elimination of instruments of Syrian intervention in Lebanon's affairs – such instrutments as the use of Hizballah’s weapons to implement Syrian/Iranian regional agendas, the presence of Syrian collaborators throughout various security services, the presence of non-Lebanese armed factions on Lebanese territory (think PFLP-GC), and so on and so forth] and the international resolutions passed in support of that revolution and the establishment of Syria-independent sovereign Lebanese state [those resolutions include UNSC 1559, UNSC 1701, and UNSC 1759].

In the other corner lies the March 8th pro-Syrian opposition bloc which had called for the election of a President under a constitutional interpretation calling for that vote to take place only under a 2/3 quorom, and now [after that requirement has gone out the window due to the Nov 12th postponement of the Presidential Election session of Parliament] continues to call for it under penalty of civil strife and violence. The group's stance is largely taken as an attempt to force the Parliamentary majority into accounting for their interests [and by extension the interests of their allies in Syria/Iran] and limit the ability of the March 14th majority to elect a President directly [i.e. solely using the majority's 68 votes].

As a political program, the March 8th group is thought to be primarily interested in ensuring the election of a President incapable of implementing any resolutions [either domestic or international] that could limit the role or capabilities of Syrian/Iranian interests in the country. Those resolutions, are said by the group, to themselves be instruments of "Western intervention". The group itself views its stance as a call for "consensus" and the election of a President pliant to all "domestic" interests.

The presence of two groups, in particular, within the March 8th alliance adds yet another dimension to the stance, however. Those groups are Hizballah and Michel Aoun’s FPM.

In the case of the former, while the pro-Syrian interpretation holds firmly, it is important to recognize the group’s rejection of the national reconciliation agreement known as the Taef Accord in which the election of a President [and the revision of the constitutional framework currently in place] is embodied. To Hizballah, any breakdown in the Taef and the institutional procedures it embodies would serve to promulgate its agenda of scrapping the document all together in favour of one it can more readily negotiate/impose. This interpretation is reinforced by calls by the group’s nominal leader, Hassan Nasrallah, for presidential conventions in violation of the Accord [such as a presidential referendum]. A call for a 2/3 majority vote backed up with a threat of violence - even when the election of a President by a simple majority is constitutionally legal [after Nov 12th] by any and all interpretation – would bring about that breakdown.

In the case of Michel Aoun and his FPM, the presence of sectarian interests [purportedly, and as described in the sequel to this post] plays a major role. This does not hold out against the fact, however, that the former General had backed his presidential hopes on his group’s presence within the March 8th alliance and, specifically, its alliance to Hizballah [although Hizballah’s commitment to Aoun’s election remains highly questionable].

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:41 PM

    Great analysis Jade!
    -Templar

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous8:53 PM

    I have a suggestion here. Why don't we decide to break up Lrbanon once and for all on sectarian basis or on opposition/Loyalist grounds. I think that we have to come to the conclusion that we Lebanese can't live with each other neither now nor in the future...

    ReplyDelete
  3. retarded orangist10:23 PM

    taratatatata mon Generale, taratata generale, mon mareshal petin...

    ReplyDelete

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