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lebanon majlis al nawab

A view of an on-going parliament session of the Lebanese assembly. Photo – lp.gov.lb

In essence, a sovereign state is a socio-political association of people that has a representative political system, autonomous judiciary, nationally and internationally acknowledged governing body and self-rule over a recognised demarcated geographic area, which is not subject to other authority or state.

Consider a state that could not uphold full sovereignty over its national territories nor could arrange security and serenity for its people since 1969 until now.

Think about a country where its citizens had to endure a devastating fifteen-year civil war during which they mourned the loss of more than 150,000 lives and prayed for the lives of more than two hundred thousands wounded.

Think about an independent state where its people had to overcome the aftermath of three destructive Israeli military invasions and occupations concurrently with twenty-nine years of military rule, suppression and exploitation of the Syrian Baathist regime, let alone the militant rampage and ascendance of the so-called Palestinian revolution.

Look upon a democracy where two elected presidents were assassinated in two horrible massive blasts after a month or so from winning the presidency mainly because of their self-governing political drive and uncompromising predispositions toward Syrian dominance. Likewise, think about a country where two prominent prime ministers were brutally assassinated because they were unwavering and self-directed politicians (add regional and international influence to the case of PM Rafik Hariri), not to name the long list of murdered ministers, MPs, politicians, clerics, journalists and senior military officers.

Look at the so-called democratic republic where its constitution was designedly amended on five occasions to extend the term of office of two presidents, and legalise the election of three army chief commanders to the presidential office, not to discuss how the presiding Speaker of the House still holds his office – twenty years as of yet.

Consider a country that has more than seventeen religious sects and over one hundred political parties most of which are set up to preserve sectarian privileges and geopolitical interests of one particular sect or another, which put the country in continuous political confrontations and severe national discordance.

Think about a state with no constitutional religion, nevertheless officialises some archaic sectarian prerogatives and denominational vantages of which all public offices are allotted as per religion and sect, let alone the ingrained corruption and incompetency of its sectarianised public service administrators and workforce. On top of such ruinous sectarian system, the mainstream politics of the country became so impaired at which government ministers and senior public servants are appointed or promoted to higher positions, irrespective of their qualifications and records of service, only because some political chieftains name them.

Think about a democratic country, which took part in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, yet could not provide around-the-clock electricity and drinking water to its residents, not to speak of the unaffordable cellular communications, feeble internet connections, and the miserable conditions of other civic infrastructures and environmental issues.

Look at a country where the price of fuel derivatives are repriced weekly in which the cost of 20 litres of gasoline or gasoil, for instance, is around 8% of the minimum monthly wage; and where one medical visit costs at least 20% of the minimum monthly wage, no matter of its catastrophic effects on low-income families.

Consider a small state that has 125% ($53 billion) of the country’s GDP in reserve, yet fall short to provide decent public education, real social security coverage and free medical care to 3.7 million citizens, seeing that nongovernmental workforce are stripped of their social security benefits and medical coverage at their retiring age.

Could it be a democratic country or one of Ali Baba’s caves of the Middle East?

Regrettably, those terrible and destructive misfortunes were the actual course of actions for the last forty years in Lebanon and still coming forth of which the Lebanese are running out of hope, as the country’s state of affairs is deteriorating at every turn. Yet, in view of the severe socioeconomic and political downslope of the last two years, the Lebanese now wonder if Lebanon would become a peaceful self-governing state again.

lebanon protest

Shia Muslim youths set tires on fire to block the Mar Mikhael road at the entrance of Beirut’s southern suburbs in protest against the kidnapping of 13 Lebanese Shia pilgrims in Syria. Photo – Anwar Amro/AFP

Since the assassination of PM Rafik Hariri in 2005 up to this time, the country is divided into two major political camps at which each camp denounces and accuses the other with conspiratorial and treasonous allegations. The governing camp (currently 8 March coalition) denounces the opposition camp (14 March Movement) for reflecting the interests of the United States, EU and Gulf Arab countries. Whereas, 8 March coalition is widely condemned for the illicit militarisation of Hezbollah and militant practices of their armed Shiite followers, and above all, for the adoption and enforcement of Syrian policies and Iranian strategies at the cost of Lebanon’s interests. And the result is that some hundreds of thousands of partisans from each political coalition condemn and criminate the other camp and its supporters for being disloyal, dishonest and self-serving upon which the country is sternly split into two antagonist large blocs.

What about those nonpartisan Lebanese citizens who look ahead for true political change and socioeconomic development, but were pushed aside and marginalised by these self-involved political headmen. Do they have the means to change this disastrous course? Luckily, the Lebanese people have a forthcoming opportunity to bring on a major political change in the incoming parliamentary elections of 2013.

To that end, Lebanese citizens should act on forcefully to comprise two must-haves in the upcoming new electoral law. The first one is about bringing forth an autonomous permanent constitutional commission or official self-governing electoral body to impartially conduct, supervise and finalise the elections that are free from any interference or influence. The second is about putting pressure on the official authorities to enact an unvarying electoral law for parliamentary elections, whether it is an absolute majority, proportional representation or one-man-one-vote electoral system, so long as it provides fair chances for independent candidates to join and win the race.

At the election, voters should keep in mind that though coalitions and power sharing are agreeable democratic practices; yet creating of electoral coalitions and alliances among political parties just to win the elections is a monopolistic manoeuvre, which discourages independent candidates to engage in the electoral process or enter the race with uneven chances. Actually, recent experiences have demonstrated that similar electoral alliances, like those of Hariri-Jumblatt and Hariri-Mikati alliances in 2009, did not prevent Mr. Jumblatt or Mikati and their allied MPs to jump from one political alliance to the other upon which they neutralised the momentum of 14 March movement and nullified its governing majority in favour of 8 March coalition.

lebanese flag

Hundreds of people gather in a town square to form the flag of Lebanon. Photo – district.dearbornschools.org

Towards a real political change, voters should consider brushing off most—not to say all—sitting members of the parliament in the coming elections and select fresh nonpartisan liberal independent candidates. At the least of it, novel nonpartisan members cannot be worse than those dogmatists we now have.

In so doing, Lebanon might have a peaceful chance to move forward to regain real independence that is free of foreign dominance, corruption, favouritism and extremism of some leading politicians and their pawns. Otherwise, brace for an unforeseen revolt!

Mohammad S. Moussalli is a well-known Lebanese writer and blogger. He has a reputable journalistic experience, as commentary writer, with a renowned regional English daily newspaper. Mr. Moussalli has a long list of published articles centred on human rights, civil liberties, socio-economic development and socio-political issues.

Mr. Moussalli is a free-lance management consultant with senior executive management experience in general trading and contracting in the gulf region. He provides advice on business planning, structuring, reorganisation, operations, pay and benefit scales, and other issues.

Mr. Moussalli blogs at http://middleeasttribune.wordpress.com

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