Sunday, October 21, 2007

Presidential Debate

Here it is, the final version of the Presidential Debate/Questionnaire initiative we first launched here some months ago.

We've already published quasi-answers to some of these questions in our reports about interviews with Harb, Lahoud, and Aoun in this post (and its comments section) but we thought it would still be important to ask these questions as we saw fit.

Our original plan had been to email these questions to the respective candidates, and we still intend on doing just that [READERS ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT THE EMAIL ADDRESSES OF THEIR PREFERRED CANDIDATES], but we'd also like to hear what you think about these issues!

So anyone and everyone is invited to choose those issues which interest them the most and give us their 2 cents about them. Give us your take on the issues and tell us who you think would handle each issue best!

Don't worry about grammar or structuring an argument (although proper use of both would be greatly appreciated!), just put down your thoughts and maybe we'll be able to generate a positive discussion on what ails this country and what can be done to move it forward [and if no debate is generated at least people will have started to think about the right questions]!

So without further ado, I present you with our questions:

Defense, Security and Foreign Affairs
  1. What is your position on Hizballah's weapons given today's internal, regional, and international circumstances? Do you envision a role for the group, as an armed paramilitary organization, in the defense of Lebanon's borders? Would you push for the group's disarmament through adherence to UN resolutions, through a purely internalized mechanism, or a combination of the two?

  2. Would you welcome or oppose diplomatic efforts at placing the contested Shebaa Farms under a UN mandate, and if asked of you, would you call for a cessation of Hizballah's paramilitary activities (similar those declared by groups such as the IRA, over the years) in return for the successful implementation of this Shebaa initiative and its extension to other Lebanese-Israeli bilateral issues (Ghajjar, water rights, prisoner swaps, raparations)?

  3. A recently completed survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border suggested the formation of a multi-agency organization tasked with patrolling the border in conjunction with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and 'international experts'. The recommendations were presented in light of the report's alarming findings on the poor security conditions along the border. In light of Syria's threats on the subject (most notably threats to declare a state of war between the two countries, and to unilaterally close crossing points along the border, if such measures are implemented), would you support these UN recommendations?

  4. The Lebanese action group SOLIDE (Support of Lebanese in Detention or Exile) has, for the past 15 years, pushed and lobbied for the extraction of hundreds of Lebanese citizens currently imprisoned in Syrian jails. As President, what actions would you take to address the issue of Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails and to bring these prisoners home? Given that Syrian authorities have in the past denied the presence of these prisoners (despite undeniable proof to the contrary), would you encourage the embodiment of the issue within an international framework or would you address it as a purely bilateral one?

  5. Do you believe there is a need for a restructuring of the Lebanese Army as it stands today, and if so, under what guidelines would you encourage such a restructuring?

  6. What is your position on the status of Lebanon's Palestinian refugees? Do you believe there is need for a restructuring of security arrangements within the refugee camps, and if so, what role do you envision for Lebanese, Palestinian, and international interests in the provisioning of security? What priority would assign to the dismantling of PFLP-GC [and other non-Lebanese groups'] bases and do you envision international assistance in their dismantling?
Constitutional and Institutional Reform
  1. The Lebanon of today currently finds itself facing deep running divides which run across both sectarian and party lines. These divisions have resulted in numerous vacancies across the country's institutions, from the Constitutional Council to the country's diplomatic postings oversees. If you are elected President what measures would you take to try and bridge this divide and unite the country under a unified interpretation of the Constitution and its implementation throughout the country's political and administrative systems?

  2. The Taif Agreement characterises the abolishment of political sectarianism as a "fundamental national objective". The Accord also calls on the formation of a Senate representative of all "spiritual families", and charged with addressing "crucial isses", in the aftermath of the election of the first non-sectarian Chamber of Deputies (Parliament). How committed are you to the pursuit of this avenue of political reform, and what time frame do you envision for the implementation of these clauses?

  3. In your opinion, will the Taef Accords suffice as a legal reference in the augmentation and reform of Lebanon's institutions or will there be a need for the pursuit of an 'alternative' or 'complementary' legal reference and accord among the Lebanese in the charting of a new era for the state? What issues would such an accord address and what changes might it entail for the way in which the country is governed and administered?
Public Policy
  1. Despite rapid post-war growth and monetary stability, Lebanon today finds itself ladened with massive debt and pervasive discrepancies in wealth and income. Do you support a policy of privatization of state assets as a solution to the country's economic woes?

  2. What policies will you support in the administration and reform of the country's welfare, health care, and educational policies? What role do you envision for the state in the provision of these services?

  3. Will you adhere to an urban-centric developmental policy or will you seek to endorse a policy of rural development? What steps will you take to support governmental policies in this regard?

  4. Governmental and administrative corruption has continuously ranked as a top concern for everyday Lebanese. In the past any attempts at tackling the issue have resulted in highly partisan drives that seem to have only exacerbated the problem. What steps will you take to address this situation; to ensure that any progressive steps taken with this respect are institutionalised within the government's administrative framework and are applied in an unbiased, non-partisan method?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:23 PM

    A four-member committee assigned by Bkirki to follow up Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir's initiative held its third meeting Tuesday noting that its members have reached consensus on "specifications" of a presidential candidate.
    The committee, in a statement issued after its meeting at Bkirki, said: "the committee has reached consensus on specifications of a forthcoming president based on terms set by Patriarch Sfeir and Maronite Bishops."

    The committee, the statement added, started listing the "missions" that the new head of state should shoulder.

    It noted that the presidential candidate would be selected "in light" of such envisaged missions and
    Chosen specifications.

    The committee pledged to hold further meetings to accomplish its assignment.



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