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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Saturday, May 24, 2008  

    ‘’People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.’’
    - Adam Smith

    Preparations are underway across the country for Sunday’s election (by parliament) and inauguration of Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Michel Sleiman as the twelfth president of the Republic of Lebanon and the accompanying celebrations.
    I suggest that they shred the Lebanese constitution and use that as confetti.
    This is the forth consecutive presidential ‘’election’’ that has been in violation of the constitution.
    The first three times the Lebanese parliament voted to amend the constitution ‘’once and once only’’ - the 1995 extension of then-President Elias Hrawi’s term despite the constitutional prohibition of a serving president being re-elected or having his term extended; the 1998 election of then-army commander Emile Lahoud despite the constitution barring serving first-grade civil servants from running and the 2004 extension of Lahoud’s term.
    They've gotten so used to it that this time they’re not even bothering to amend the constitution anymore – they’ve concocted some sort of loophole that does away with even the need to do that.
    No respectable polity changes it’s constitution without the people’s consent.
    Not that the people know any better than their leaders – they don’t- but such major decisions should not be in the hands of the few in order to prevent conspiracies by cliques and because we should all bear responsibility for them.
    Unlike the Bible or the Koran, the constitution isn’t a sacred text that can’t be changed but, if it needs to be changed, let the people do it.
    And to think that the Syrian diktat to unconstitutionally amend Lahoud’s term in 2004 prompted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 which was the catalyst for the upheaval that we are still experiencing in Lebanon to this day.
    So what was all the fuss about then when the constitution is now being violated again?
    Is it okay for the West to dictate a constitutional violation to us but not okay for the Syrians?
    So all the fuss back in 2004 was not about the constitution being violated but about who was doing the violation.
    Is not a ruse a ruse by any other name?
    I suggest that soon-to-be President Sleiman’s first task on assuming office should be to restore the legitimacy that he and other politicians have so undermined through his election.
    And make no mistake about it, army commanders have always been politicians.
    When has the commander of the Lebanese army not been a politician and when has that position not been used as a stepping stone to the presidency (parliament’s election of army commander, aka president in waiting, is the closest thing we have to a presidential primary)?
    They talk about the army being neutral as if they were above politics but it’s the exact opposite – the army is neutral because it's leadership wants to appeal to all the political factions.
    But I don’t blame the military brass (or anyone else) for taking what they can get, I blame Maronite politicians for being so greedy and covetous of the presidency that they can’t agree on a president from within their ranks and have to resort to the army as they’ve done three times now (which means that a quarter of our presidents have been from the military).
    It must be noted I have the utmost respect for the Lebanese army.
    The Lebanese army remains the only army in the world to beat and totally obliterate an Al Qaeda cell as they did in the Nahr el bared conflict last year.
    That’s the very reason why I don’t like to see them tarnished by politics.

    At the end of the day Lebanon Doesn’t Decide 2007/2008 isn’t so much about electing Michel Sleiman but about not electing Michel Aoun.
    The March 14th Movement and their ally the Maronite church wants as president any Michel except Michel Aoun who, ironically, is favoured by a majority of Lebanese in general and Lebanese Maronites specifically (Aoun had proposed direct presidential elections but, knowing what the outcome would be, the powers that be opposed this).
    The list of preferred candidates that the Patriarch drew up last summer included two other Michels namely Michel Edde and Michel Khoury.
    Michel Sleiman, Michel Khoury, Michel Edde, Michael Jackson, Michael Shumacher, Mickey Mouse, Michele my belle… any Michel (or any other variation thereof) but Michel Aoun!
    Because this honest but mad* general is the person who keeps the Establishment awake at night.
    They’re obsessed to the point of nympholepsy about the one major Christian politician in Lebanon that they can’t co-opt.
    The man who doesn’t play by the rules of the old colluding cartel.
    The seventy-three-year-old with a mainly youth following who’s the freshest thing to ever happen to Lebanese politics.

    *There’s plenty to be mad about in this country and it’s enough to drive you mad!
    Besides, you have to be crazy to deal with these people.
    As Seal sings ‘’we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little bit crazy’’.

    1:40 am

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