Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Debate: A national consensus government would be able to govern Lebanon | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman (C), Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam (L) and Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati (R) attend a graduation parade for Lebanese officer cadets at a military academy in Fayadyeh, near Beirut, marking the 68th Army Day, August 1, 2013. (REUTERS/Sharif Karim.)

It is absolutely indisputable that the establishment of governance and administration in any country should be grounded in the constitution, the law and the system of rights and duties for individuals and political associations. There is also no arguing that in Lebanon, the constitution the Lebanese adopted in the Taif Agreement forms the framework for the entire political process, including that of forming a government—any government. In particular, the constitution establishes that the government should in turn be based on “democratic consensus” or a “democratic pact.” Such a coalition cannot equate to being a faction (or factions) to the exclusion of others, no matter the size or strength of those factions.

It is also acknowledged that the stability of any country is primarily tied to how entrenched its constitutional and legal values are and how they translate into constitutional institutions—political, judicial, security and administrative. The institutions should be described as the effective framework to manage the life of the state and its citizens as a whole. At the core of these institutions is the democratic process that produces deliberation within the political authority, thereby reviving the course of the state and offering a framework for accountability. However, all of these fundamental principles remain somewhat impossible to achieve except in the case of a successful state, which regrettably the Lebanese have been incapable of constructing thus far. On the one hand, they have been unable to move beyond the sectarian structure as a critical factor in determining the form and domain of power and to embrace the concept of citizenship. Moreover, they have been incapable of bolstering their internal situation in the face of outside influences and the resulting political and security implications.

The inability to build a real, capable state in Lebanon has made the political process like shifting sands; we need at every stage to build a minimum amount of consensus so as to ensure stability. And in order for the political process to progress from the stage of interim settlements to the level of a radical solution for the fragile Lebanese reality, the first thing that must be done is an absolute split of the various political forces from outside dependencies. Cooperation on the basis of internal balances will liberate Lebanese political life from what goes on outside the country, and from changes in regional and international players and in the balance of power between them.

The counterpoint to this piece can be read here.