Author Archives: mezzo

Are we mixing quorum with ballot?

By Mezzo

To say the least, many are mixing the two together which is creating a lot of confusion. In order to clarify the matter I shall start by reproducing several articles from Lebanon Constitution (this English translation reflects exactly the original arabic text) that are related to the QUORUM and to the BALLOT of the presidential election process. It is wrong to come up with any interpretation on the matter if one has no access or has not read the original texts. We clearly need to differentiate between QUORUM from BALLOT. Take note that article 34 deals with the quorum, and that article 49 deals with the ballot.

Article 34 [Quorum]
The Chamber is not validly constituted unless the majority of the total membership is present. Decisions are to be taken by a majority vote. Should the votes be equal, the question under consideration is deemed rejected.

Article 49 [Presidential Powers]
(1) The President of the Republic is the bead of the state and the symbol of the nation’s unity. He shall safeguard the constitution and Lebanon’s independence, unity, and territorial integrity. The President shall preside over the Supreme Defense Council and be the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces which fall under the authority of the Council of Ministers.
(2) The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and by a twothirds majority of the Chamber of Deputies. After a first ballot, an absolute majority shall be sufficient. The President’s term is for six years. He may not be re-elected until six years after the expiration of his last mandate. No one may be elected to the Presidency of the Republic unless he fulfills the conditions of eligibility for the Chamber of Deputies.
(3) It is also not possible to elect judges, Grade One civil servants, or their equivalents in all public institutions to the Presidency during their term or office or within two years following the date of their resignation or their leaving office for whatever reason.

Article 73 [Election of the President]
One month at least and two months at most before the expiration of the term of office of the President of the Republic, the Chamber is summoned by its President to elect the new President of the Republic. However, should it not be summoned for this purpose, the Chamber meets of its own accord on the tenth day preceding the expiration of the President’s term of office.

Article 74 [Vacancy of Presidency]
Should the Presidency become vacant through the death or resignation of the President or for any other cause, the Chamber meets immediately and by virtue of the law to elect a successor. If the Chamber happens to be dissolved at the time the vacancy occurs, the electoral bodies are convened without delay and, as soon as the elections have taken place, the Chamber meets by virtue of the law.

Article 75
The Chamber meeting to elect the President of the Republic is considered an electoral body and not a legislative assembly. It must proceed immediately, without discussion or any other act, to elect the Head of the State..

By differentiating QUORUM from BALLOT, the text is clearly stating that the two-thirds majority requirement is for the first ballot and not for the quorum. I will take back an analysis I made in a previous post that illustrates that very point.

In this simple scenario we will take for granted what the March 8 coalition states that a two-thirds quorum is the only constitutional interpretation. Let us say that the majority has 51% (read: 50% + 1) of the members of the parliament and the minority 49%. If all of them go to the parliament, obviously the majority wins. Since the minority can’t get its candidate through, it decides to boycott the elections and the country has no president. Let us expand now the majority to 66% of the members of the parliament (1% short from the twothirds majority) and shrink the minority to 34%. The minority decides to boycott the election and we obtain the same result: no quorum, no president.

Who can believe that the Lebanese constitution is meant to say that 34% of the members of a parliament, that represent a minority in any democracy of these modern worlds, can simply paralyze a country? Nobody can, of course. This is why the minimum quorum required to elect the President of the Republic must be 50% +1 and no more. Should the March 8 tenors stop confusing themselves between QUORUM and BALLOT, they will ultimately resist this temptation of manipulating peoples’ minds.

Now to the question whether the March 8 politicians are aware of this differentiation, the answer is yes and this is why: Lahoud, Nasrallah, Ra’ad, Frangieh, Wahhab, Berri, and Aoun are daily panicking with the idea that the March 14 coalition would eventually elect a president with a simple majority. They know that they cannot stop it democratically so they turned their speech into a continuous flow of threats of civil war, civil unrest, and lately from Aoun: partition. The best part is that they want to make the March 14 responsible, up front, for a decision they plan to take after the 24th of November.

The March 8 politicians need to know that they can longer blame others for the decisions they take. With power and authority come responsibility and accountability. You will be held responsible and accountable for your decisions and actions.

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Filed under Aoun, Emile Lahoud, Hassan Nasrallah, Lebanese Constitution, Lebanese Presidential Elections, March 14, March 8, Nabih Berri, Sleiman Frangieh, Wiam Wahab

The quorum for a president

By Mezzo

Do we need to read the constitution in order to know what is the required quorum to elect a president for Lebanon? The answer is no. All we need to do is to figure out the routing that would take Lebanon through the hardest possible path and then we extract the answer. Indeed, every phase the country went through has been a hard one resulting from a sparking of differences in opinion between constituencies. To list the latest few:

1) Hezbollah’s right to kidnap Israeli soldiers off the border, triggering a war that makes half of the population traitors for not agreeing with it
2) The government is no longer constitutional because the Shia’a ministers resigned, thus giving the right for any community to quit in the future
3) Occupying the capital’s down town for 9 months is a naturally democratic means to topple any government in the world
4) Closing roads and burning tires is in the name of citizens’ freedom of movement and expression
5) Closing the door of the parliament is a privilege given by the constitution to the Speaker

This time it is the presidential election that is at stake, and the quorum is the manipulative tool that the minority will use to make Lebanon get another good chunk of hard times.

And the question remains: do we need to read the constitution in order to know what is the required quorum to elect the next president of Lebanon? Let us see if we can find the answer without going through the texts.

We will analyze a simple scenario whereby the majority has 51% of the members of the parliament and the minority 49%. If all of them go to the parliament, obviously the majority wins. So far, the minority in Lebanon has never acted as a minority, and therefore, would decide to boycott the elections: no quorum, no elections. Since the minority can’t get its candidate through, then let the country stay with no president, until the majority understands the minority’s meaning of democracy.

Let us extrapolate that same example whereby several parliamentary blocks put together 66% of the members of the parliament that are all in favor of electing the next president. The next block in size has 34% and decides to boycott the election: no quorum, no president.

Who can believe that the Lebanese constitution is meant to say that 34% of the members of a parliament, that represent a minority in any democracy of these modern worlds, can simply paralyze a country? Nobody can, of course.

This is why, and without reading the constitution, we can safely say that the quorum required to elect the President of the Republic is 51%. Surprisingly enough, the legal texts are in line with this conclusion.

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Filed under Lebanese Constitution, Lebanese Presidential Elections

Can Aoun do better business than politics?

By Mezzo

It was puzzling listening to Aoun, during his first intervention following election’s results, classifying LBC’s coverage of the Metn elections as poor and below any recognized standard. Of course, we firstly focus our attention on what he is trying to say in order to visualize what mishap could LBC have committed that would make it deserve such a public accusation. Aoun quickly volunteered few explanations but he was not convincing. LBC has standards even if mishaps can happen. Aoun may not know it, but he is not beyond fault.

The strange thing with Aoun is that LBC served him well since he returned from exile by providing him fair media time. Actually, his host country served him well too, and so has a large portion of the 14th of March Christian electorate during the 2005 elections. Actually, the people delivered and they are still waiting on him to deliver beyond words and promises.

We could quickly conclude that Aoun has no sense of loyalty but that would not draw the full picture. Indeed, for Aoun, loyalty is not a commodity he usually trades with. Aoun seems to be a better businessman than a politician. He can identify the obstacle standing in front of prosperity and put in motion an action plan that would remedy the situation.

LBC is a direct competitor to OTV.

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Filed under Aoun, Lebanon, March 14

Aoun can’t manage a political party

By Mezzo

Until recently, I never asked myself whether Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) could be turned into a political party that could survive him. This thought, however, came to my mind after seeing Aoun everywhere; leading every appearance, on every TV debate, at every reunion, and in every newspaper. Basically, everywhere and barely any trace of Camille Khoury, the real candidate against Amin Gemayel. The real point of concern is whether any member of the FPM can see the difference between starting a political movement that requires a LEADER, and the making of a political party that requires a MANAGER.

Let us go back in time, when Aoun created his movement: One member from his closest ones started drawing an organization chart while all others were attempting to contribute enthusiastically, thinking that they were making history that night. Their contribution to the creation of the FPM movement became louder and louder until Aoun, who was listening to his most trusted colleagues with exasperation, nervously realized how far behind they were from his great ideas and vision. Being the Leader, he briskly claimed ownership of that crucial moment, confident that his preconceived ideas would do the job just fine. Aoun redrew the organization chart on a brand new piece of paper, exactly like he would have done it in the army. Aoun looked around, screened the faces in the room, steered in the air trying to visualize few others from older days, and started filling names in the empty boxes. He had just created a political movement and he proudly spilled it out to his team with excitement and a large smile on his face. Of course, everybody agreed with him that this is the best that can be made. It was a long night that stretched to the early hours and what Aoun did not know, was that few from the team returned home with a tail in between their legs. Every day since, unwillingly, Aoun made somebody go back home with a tail in between his legs. After a while, they all got used to it, and so did he, on the justification that it is the privilege of a LEADER.

If a movement requires a structure and a team, then a party needs a responsible team of people that are empowered. To expand from the few to the masses, time is of the essence, and therefore empowerment is key for success. That is exactly what Aoun missed and still is missing: the manager’s skills. He micromanages his whole team and every situation that arises. He basically does not trust their capabilities being not powerful enough and enough hate to reach to the masses.

Aoun presents himself as the champion of democracy, names family members in key FPM positions and then blames the others for being feudal and anti-democratic. Aoun’s supporters look exactly in the direction he wants them to look and see exclusively the problem among the March 14 political leaders. For Aoun, closing the parliament is a rightful democratic act when the majority doesn’t do what the minority wants it to do. Closing the roads and burning tires is against the law but not really when it is in the name of citizen’s freedom of speech and movement. Occupying Downtown can’t be his fault if Seniora refused to resign. Aoun’s democracy is of his own vision and creation, stretching it at every situation to meet his needs. Meanwhile his naïve supporters are just amazed and proud to have him as a chief and a champion of democracy.

Aoun simply acts and behalves like the chief of a tribe who is always right and never wrong while his fans and supporters are stupidly steering towards him with gaping mouths. For him, DEMOCRACY is simply in his path bothering him in whatever he wants to do. Aoun finds it always in the middle just in front of him, and at every occasion he never miss and tumbles on it. Aoun has the stereotype profile of a dictator and if it wasn’t because of DEMOCRACY, he would have terminated every politician, fired every responsible, criticized every head of state, and many more things.

No, Aoun is not a manager and his FPM movement will not survive him, unless new blood from within dares come forward.

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Filed under Amin Gemayel, Aoun, Camille Khoury, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Christians, Lebanon

Is Aoun worth the presidency?

By Mezzo

It is not important what Aoun says but what he actually does. This is the only way to evaluate a controversial candidate who is continuously hammering the people with great speeches on the Christians’ existence, on restoring presidential power, on fighting corruption, and many other great things.

A good president for Lebanon needs to show the people that he has a clear view of all matters affecting the country with national, regional, or international circumstances and dimensions. He must also convince the people that he has an unambiguous understanding of what is at stake and that he can establish intelligent relationships with most of the political forces of the country, its neighbors, the West, and the East. Basically, the people want to know where he stands and why he stands where he is. The people want also to be convinced that he is a mature politician.

It worries me greatly to see Aoun only focusing on Hariri, Seniora, Geagea, and recently Amin Gemayel. I would have liked to see Aoun tackling, together with his March 8 partners, bigger and more important matters such as Syria’s unwillingness to draw its borders with Lebanon, its unwillingness to exchange diplomats, the poor application of the UN resolution 1701, the continuous arms smuggling into Lebanon, Syria apparent support to terrorist organizations, Hezbollah’s readiness for another war, and much more. I would have liked to see Aoun, lobbying with his partners to address these matters with Syria, not exactly to the full satisfaction of the 14th March population, but to his best. It took Aoun 48 hours before he made a statement following the 20th of May events at Nahr El Bared.

It is also very worrying to see Aoun completely unaffected by the daily declarations made by Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and other radical organizations, while disregarding the events happening daily to us and around each and every one of us. The Tayyar.org website has no depth and is full of pitiful news, otherwise hinting and accusing the government and the Lebanese Forces for all the bombs and assassination. How can he still say that the killers of late of Pierre Gemayel are within this government when specific links to Syria and Fatah Al Islam are now public news? How truly honest is he? How did he dare go public live on Al Manar on Friday, 26th of January, with forged pictures trying to implicate the LF into the Arab University incident and then come and talk to us of transparency?

In the eyes of Nasrallah, and the silent complicity of Aoun, the 14th of March coalition is perceived to have a direct responsibility in the New Middle East that the US wants to create: the US-Iran nuclear program, Hezbollah being on the US terrorist list, and the fact that the US has always wanted to protect Israel. Can Aoun assist Nasrallah in identifying the steps, actions, and stands that the Seniora government (and the 14th of March coalition) took as a result of direct or indirect pressures from the US and from the West? We should remind ourselves that it was in 2003 that the US Senate voted unanimously the “Syria Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Act”, that in Sep-04 the UN voted the 1559 resolution calling for Syria’s withdrawal, in Feb-05 Hariri was assassinated, and as a result of all that, the 14th of March became the commencement of a dream-to-come-true. This is why I call on Aoun to ask Nasrallah to publicly tell us: What exactly did the 14th of March coalition do, or is doing, that without US pressure, it would have done differently?

Nasrallah adopted a classification based on the logic that the friend of my enemy is my enemy, and therefore being friends to the US and the West, the 14th of March coalition becomes Israel’s friends and therefore Hezbollah’s enemy. With a similar approach, Aoun sees that the enemy of my enemy is my friend and therefore he is an ally of Hezbollah, regardless of what Syria does in or with Lebanon. Would Nasrallah and Aoun feel better if we drop our call for delimiting borders with Syria, on the disarmament of Hezbollah, and on returning the Chebaa farms diplomatically? And what about giving Hezboallah the third minority blockade in the government in order to force the government not to ask for the renewal of the UNIFIL and cancel the list of judges who will siege at the tribunal?

The most extraordinary talk in town nowadays comes from the FPM supporters who are openly arguing with conviction, and on the basis that it is about to happen anyway, the allegation that the Shia’a deserves one third of the country’s representatives whether in the public administration, the government, or in the parliament. They are also saying that Aoun never supported the Ta’ef agreement and therefore he would entertain a renegotiation of the constitution in line with Nasrallah’s wishes. Whether this is the net result of brainwashing is not as important as the motif of Aoun who sees no hopes for the President Job outside the support of Hezbollah and Syria.

What is important today is that we analyze every aspect of what Aoun really does and to question what he actually says. He is, in my opinion, simply unfit for the presidency and he does not have enough strength and latitude to stop Syria from re-entering Lebanon. He just chose the wrong partners… one more time.

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Filed under Amin Gemayel, Aoun, Fouad Seniora, Geagea, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Presidential Elections, Lebanon, March 14, March 8

Are Bkirki and the Archbishop in agreement?

By Mezzo

Archbishop Bishara El Rai’i’s interview with As-Safir can be simply summarized as another wrong step to the discredit of the Maronites.

I was astonished when El Rai’i said that Seniora’s government is Islamizing the country. My astonishment came as I recalled that Bkirki’s communication style is not one to mention names in public statements but rather is characterized as diplomatically discrete to an extent that, from time to time, I cannot even understand what they mean or who they are talking about. So why would Bishara El Rai’i mention the name of Seniora (government of)?

My second surprise followed as soon as I reminded myself that Seniora’s government includes 10 Christian ministers. I spent the next minute actively trying to figure out how had the Sunnis managed to manipulate the government from within, and set in motion the Islamization of Lebanon that has only been noticed, two years down the road, by Gebran Bassile and Bishara El Rai’i?

Then I started wondering why this is happening at the worst possible timing to gradually move to a very disturbing conclusion that, probably the wind had changed direction and I had not noticed it. Maybe something dramatic is about to happen that incited Bkirki to quickly re-position in favor of the Hezbollah-led coalition, and so by giving Aoun a solid boost of a much-needed community support.

Regardless of all possible motives, I do not agree with Bkirki for many reasons:

1) Bkirki can’t position the Christians as a standing-up community facing the other Muslim communities on every single subject and topic. The 14th of March Christian politicians adopted an advanced strategy of opening up to the Muslim communities and inviting all parties for a shared role in governing and developing the nation, within the boundaries of the Ta’ef Agreement.

2) The timing for intentionally hitting the Sunnis and inducing a political setback, is so inappropriate in view of the latest political and security build-up of an imminent regional conflict with international repercussions. This will definitely displease the international community, who will also recall, how irritating the Christians in general and the Maronites in particular are, given their inability to never ride the proper sail nor do so on time.

3) It can’t help Bkirki and the country if Seniora is out since Paris-III is specifically link to the Hariris and Senioras.

4) Damaging the reputation and the political representation of Seniora (and the ones who are behind him: Hariri, Al Mustakbal) would eventually invite a new Sunni coalition to emerge. Can Bkirki guarantee to us that the replacing coalition will be as moderate as Siniora and Hariri, and as open to the world as the Christians want?

5) It is the Seniora’s government, and Hariri in particular, who negotiated a multiple Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian support, to then gave the army a green light to enter a red-lined Palestinian camp and to hard hit Sunnis fellows. It is therefore quite hypocritical to attack Seniora’s government, the very government that ordered the destruction of the fundamentalist organization and numerous terrorizing cells that are Bkirki’s and Hezbollah’s daily nightmares.

6) The Aouns and the Frangiehs will not take back all they said and did to the patriarch from 1989, and everyday since, until today (i.e. Branding Patriarch Sfeir a womanizer or calling him inept to legitimately represent the Christians).

Aoun is mentally still living in the pre-war era where, once upon a time, the president had all the powers that Ta’ef took away as a result of Aoun’s liberation war against Syria. Bkirki, on the other hand, moved forward and stayed in the post-war era where the Christian community suffered further downsizing by the occupier and other communities. It seems today that Bkirki has not cross the line into the post post-war era that started on the 14 of March 2005 and my views are that the 14th of March politicians should not longer wait on Bkirki, ignore Aoun, and take us to the next step of abolishing confessionalism according to Ta’ef. It is only a question of time for the remaining fanatic Christians and ideologically driven Shi’a to ease their political consideration and move, as if by gravity, to their natural home that is the March 14 Intifada.

And last but not least, there is another reality that I want to mention that was understood by Rafiq al-Hariri a long time ago but that Bkirki is yet to recognize: Bkirki does not represent the Christians but the Maronites who make 18.5% of the Lebanese population according to statistics on holders of Lebanese ID cards. The other 16.5% of Christians are completely ignored by the Maronites politicians in the same way Aoun and Bkirki advocate that the Christians are ill-represented today. For the Maronites, it is time to share more of their power with other Christian communities. We only have to look at Al-Mustakbal ministry and parliamentary composition to see that Rafiq al-Hariri capitalized on this point at the right time. Accordingly, Bkirki should be very careful not to assume that it can easily manipulate the Christians in the name of Maronitisim.

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Filed under Aoun, Bkirki, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, Ta'ef Accord

You just made the perfect mistake

By Mezzo

It is a perfect case study whereby what is said is not what is meant to be told. The urgency for taking any initiative has clouded the existing fundamental political equilibrium between the two coalitions of March 14 and March 8. Somehow, somebody, somewhere, lost his nerves and suggested that Lahoud propose a six-member government representing the country’s six main religions.

Until the day of your proposal, the March 8 coalition classified the government as unconstitutional on the basis that the Shi’a community resigned and is therefore no longer represented in the government. What about the other eleven communities you just proposed to leave behind? The problem with your innovative solution is that the Ta’ef Agreement does not allow you to compose a government excluding any community. However, the Ta’ef Agreement allows the resignation of up to one third of the ministers regardless of the community they belong to.

My question to the 8th of March followers: have you ever read the Ta’ef agreement or the Lebanese constitution? Your leaders assume that you have not and therefore assume they have the luxury to make you swallow any stupidity.

The 8th of March coalition has just shot down the main argument they stood behind when Nasrallah made the unilateral decision to make all Shi’a ministers resign. This coalition is yet to realize that this same bullet has shot Aoun down too.

You just made the perfect mistake.

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Filed under Lebanon, March 8, Ta'ef Accord