To cut short the speech of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, our Prime Minister, before it ends is not innocent. Daher is a confused person. He does not realize how critical these times are for the Lebanese, for us, Christians and Muslims alike. We are not concerned with his continuous irritation over the legal case raised by the Lebanese Forces for the hundreds of millions he owed and pocketed. Where is the grand mission of LBC? Will Daher burn the oild fields like Saddam did when he unwillingly withdrew from Kuwait?
I was watching LBC on the day after the large turnout of February 14. A very short appearance of Geagea criticizing Nasrallah’s
monopolistic control over peace and war, there was no analysis over yesterday’s participations, and suddenly LBC switched to social
affairs. I zapped around and stopped at Future TV as the moving banner was just indicating what was coming next; an evaluation of yesterday’s Christian’s participation. Few minutes later down this review, Geagea appeared but for a longer period of time than on LBC, as he also discussed the presidential elections and of a new initiative to come if it does not happen any time soon. Recently, colleagues and friends also noted the subtle existence of a partial blackout on Geagea. How irresponsible of Daher to think that he can enjoy his upper hand during these critical times. Is Daher in such a hurry for consuming his revenge in anticipation of the outcome of his conflict with Geagea over LBC’s ownership? He reminds me of Aoun when he took his political ambitions over and above our national interests. And what a dear price we are still paying!
For the sake of keeping with our tradition, below are Michel Hayek’s 2008 predictions, albeit late.
– The presidential elections will be used as a pretext to put The Lebanese Republic itself at risk. The conspiracy plan is still taking form so it is not too late for the Lebanese to overcome it, recommended Michel.
– There won”t be a civil war, only smaller clashes or problems.
– The presidential elections will take place despite the latest turmoil.
– The economic and monetary situation in Lebanon will overcome many grand obstacles or crisis with success and Central BankGovernor Riad Salameh will shine further. Hayek sensed a dark atmosphere surrounding Salameh and warned him of possible dangers that might strike his person.
– Real estate boom to be expected. Hold on to your properties people!
– Numerous important business and economic summits shall take place in Lebanon.
– Various Lebanese women (about 4) will receive international honorary titles, including May Chediac, Minister Layla Solh Hmedeh and most probably the wife of a former president .
– Lebanon will not be split into ghettos or confessional cantons.
– Security threats and assassinations will go on, despite a breakthrough in the investigations.
– Skirmishes between Lebanon, Israel and Syria.
– Fireworks will fill the sky of some Lebanese cities celebrating the departure of the head of the Israeli government.
– Shaker El Absi will not remain an obscure matter; He will appear in a new light with a new facet.
– The opposition sitting in Downtown Beirut will be grounds for a scuffle or fight, and some tents or parties will leave the protest.
– Despite Michel Sleiman efforts and achievements, he will be, alongside the Lebanese army, the target of a campaign striving to disfigure his reputation and image.
– A wave of disturbances or turmoil will stir the public opinion, bringing together contradicting parties into one single manifestation or objection.
– Repetitive and different images revolving around the Lebanesearmed forces appear to Hayek. New members enrolling and others leaving within its troops, as well as important changes in leaderships and positions. The army will face local forces (trying to rebel), terrorist groups, as well as civil groups resulting constant military presence on all the Lebanese grounds to enforce security and stability.
– Prime Minister Fouad El Sanioura and General Michel Aoun at the mercy of a new conspiracy. Despite the darkness of the picture, Hayek sees a new stand or opinion, a new authority or leadership position, a new equation or equilibrium.
– To disable a conspiracy, the highest authority of Hezbollah will take a decision that will surprise the public.
– Hezbollah will demand clarifications or an investigation regarding an incident which will target one of his leading representatives or political figures.
– Unanticipated gesture by Emile Lahoud toward Amine Gemayel.
– A controversial billboard will be problematic in a certain area of Lebanon.
– French President Nicolas Sarkozi to face complex crisis, with negative outcome.
– In the end Georges Salibi also got a few personal predictions. An emotional affair or marriage will be the focus of the press. Despite a change of decor, Salibi career will persist at NewTV.
It is amazing to see that the whole political and press coverage is gravitating endlessly around investigating troops’ behavior on the ground, accused of committing crimes against rightful demonstrators. Hizbullah motivation is for the investigations to move upwards, in one direction, within the army corp, in order to neutralize whoever gave the shooting orders, at the next round.
What about investigating, at the level of the demonstrators, and then to pursue these investigations upward in order to find out; 1) who organized these demonstrations and 2) what instructions did the demonstrators receive?
Will Amal and Hizbollah agree to interrogations of subordinates, that would ultimately point upward and ever closer? Their expressions of excessive reprimand and agitation are clearly meant to block this outrageously unacceptable and unthinkable scenario.
This is irrespective of the fact that the party with the most vocal presence among the demonstrators was Amal’s, and that the manipulative Hizbullah has one more time succeeded in hiding, just behind. It is similar to the on-going strategy of Hizbullah that made Aoun believe, exactly like Berry believes today, that he is playing an historical role of national importance.
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.
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.
General Michel Aoun slammed March 14 saying they don’t have a right to be decision makers. He also said that he represents the majority of the Christians and being shut out of the debate for the presidency is isolating the voice of the majority of the Christians. He also criticized the U.S.’s recent statement rejecting a president that is affiliated to a terrorist organization or foreign power.
1. March 14 is the majority and therefore is the decision maker by constitutional default;
2. The FPM and their leader need to re-check the Metn results: the only substantial Christian bloc that voted for Camille Khoury was Tashnag, and certainly not the Maronites (although I fully respect and advocate the view that the Maronites are not all the Christians); and
3. How can you, Aoun, support a president that has the carte blanche from Hezbollah (like yourself) when they are clearly a terrorist organization, one that you acknowledged back in 2002?
4. Lastly, Aoun equates the Shi’as with Hezbollah. How wrong he is. The Shi’as are more than just the political Shi’as of March 8.
The problem with demagogues is that they can never be consistent. It makes the fact that they have no logic too obvious.
For French readers, I highly recommend you read Carlos Edde: Le Fascisme. The article was published in L’Orient Le Jour last week. Fascism in a new light. Note to readers: Read between the lines, it’s a lot more fun.
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.
In the pro-opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar, the newspaper chairperson Ibrahim Al-Amine wrote on August 13:
If the majority team is more confused because of the abundance of candidates among its ranks, it is helped by the support of a large swathe of the Lebanese people and influential factions among the Arabs and the rest of the world while the opposition seems to be more comfortable with the fact that it has only one candidate, the head of the Fee Patriotic Movement General Michel Aoun who enjoys strong support from a large popular mass that includes more than half the Lebanese population.
I beg to differ.
Firstly, let’s get the facts straight. The only person from the opposition to officially endorse Aoun’s candidacy was Wiam Wahab who isn’t high enough in the hierarchy. His statement is simply not enough to make Aoun the official opposition’s candidate. I want to hear it from Berri. Even more, I want to hear it from Nasrallah. Yet, should we not hear the needed endorsement from such figures, that too will say a lot. Back on December 1, 2006, the opposition took for the streets and launched their first day of occupation over Downtown Beirut. Note that back then only Aoun was present. Berri and Nasrallah did not support the orange leader as he led on the Shi’a crowds (remember, few were the Christians who attended that day). Then, the implications of the absence of the Shi’a leaders was understood: they did not take Aoun seriously. Let’s see if they’ll take him seriously today.
Secondly, Aoun does not have the support of more than half of the population. If that were the case, why isn’t he majority leader in the Parliament?
Now let’s go back to Al-Amine’s above argument. He is suggesting that March 14 is unsure of itself whereas the opposition (read: FPM) is fully backing one candidate. My question: since when was diversity a problem?
March 14 is not a political party and therefore is not limited to the nomination of one candidate. The FPM is restricted by party regulations and therefore must nominate one candidate to avoid a conflict of interest within the party itself.
Given that March 14 is a cluster of different political parties and groups that do not have political party status, these different groups have the right to present as many candidates as they wish (of course within the rationale of some sort of meritocratic rubric). The result is the nomination of people like Boutros Harb and Robert Ghanem and perhaps in the near future Nassib Lahoud or Nayla Mouawad.
The fact that these people should feel comfortable nominating themselves within the March 14 democratic spirit is impressionable. They will be a source of competition for each other, and at the end of the day, will not insult or discredit each other. Furthermore, the losers of the elections will accept their loss in good team spirit and support the March 14 candidate that makes it through. This, Mr. Al Amine is democracy not confusion.