Monday, December 17, 2007

How to circumvent the Constitution

Lebanon is the land where the tables are often turned. Non-issues become huge problems whereas actual hindrances are typically ignored or down-played. Take a look at the latest developments surrounding the election of a new president: everybody seemed to agree on Michel Suleiman weeks ago, but the country still doesn’t have him as president. What’s up?

The “problem” was that in order for Suleiman to be elected president, the Lebanese Constitution has to change by the government. However, the Opposition has always maintained that the current government is illegal, so they couldn’t possibly accept that same government to change the Constitution, could they? As per Lebanese Logic©, they turned this non-issue into the most existential crisis possible, see also my previous post.

The only way out was to come up with a solution that would not require the Constitution to be changed, but rather to be ignored. According to today’s L’Orient-Le Jour, it seems that they have identified the magic bullet to end the current mess: a precedence where a person was appointed MP against the Constitution.

Back in 2002, Myrna Murr wanted to run for parliament to replace Albert Moukheiber. However, she was not allowed to run because she was head of the Metn municipality at the time. The reason quoted back then for her to run anyway, was that Moukheiber’s death created an emergency so serious that it warranted the shoving aside of the Constitution. If memory serves me right, he died of old age and he didn’t hold any special position in Parliament that would warrant ignoring the Constitution.

Anyway, the serious problem of adjusting the Constitution has now been solved: if the death of a regular MP was enough to bypass the Constitution, then surely the current crisis would be reason enough for politicians of both sides to participate in group-raping Lebanon’s most important set of laws.

What’s even worse is the support of US envoy David Welch who seems to support this approach. Lebanese politicians being caricatures of themselves doesn’t surprise me, but the Americans cheering them on? Of course, there is no surprise there either. Yet, it is another dream shattered on the rocks of cynicism. Normally, a country gets the leaders it deserves, but somehow Lebanon deserves better.

Update: See also Lebanonesque's blog for a similar article with additional background information.

Update 2: The presidential election has been postponed for the 9th time until Saturday, December 22