Parliament Decides Mikati Government May Proceed with Caretaker Duties Based on a statement issued by the Lebanese Speaker of Parliament, the parliament decided that the incumbent cabinet led by Prime Minister Najib Mikati – which entered into caretaker status following last May’s parliamentary elections – may proceed with its caretaker duties, after former President Michel Aoun reached the expiration of his term without an elected successor. Several MPs clarified that while Mikati’s caretaker cabinet can continue to manage current affairs, it may not meet except in exceptional situations. [L’Orient Today]
New Official Rate Mired in Uncertainty as Aoun Departed Presidency without Approving the ’22 Budget According to AP News, “Spokespeople from the Finance Ministry and central bank told the AP that they did not modify their decrees that put forth the new currency peg [altering the official rate from 1,500 LL to 15,000 LL against the USD], but they cannot go into effect unless the budget does as well. Another advisor added that [Former President Michel] Aoun did not see the budget law as meeting The International Monetary Fund’s expectations, but didn’t want Lebanon to be without a budget. Speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak the press, they added that the delay would allow budget to pass but without the president’s endorsement.” [AP News]
Berri Sets Date for Next Presidential Election Session in Parliament According to Naharnet, “Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for an election session on Thursday, November 10. He said he hoped these sessions won’t turn into a ‘theatrical show’.” [Naharnet]
LAF Commander in Chief Addresses Presidential Vacuum In a speech delivered today by the Commander in Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Joseph Aoun, he warned that, “the country’s entry into a period of presidential vacancy, along with the ongoing political tensions, could lead to attempts to exploit the situation in order to undermine security . . . We will not allow the exploitation of the situation and the transformation of our nation into an open field for any security incident or suspicious actions . . . We have never accepted any breach of security in the past and we will never accept it in the future.” [L’Orient Today]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Arab News Lebanon Needs A True Election To Find Its Next President Lynn Zovighian
Zovighian writes, “While the Lebanese Constitution defines governance mechanisms for state institutions, most state entities are personality-centered fiefdoms rather than institutional. For example, there is a historical national habit to fixate on the prime minister and not the government; the speaker of the house and not the parliament; and the president and not the presidency. The constitution also assumes that a person who holds a seat of power is governing based on an institutional mandate because that is what legitimate and competent rule ought to imply . . . Michel Aoun became president in 2016 at the 46th session of parliament after 45 attempts to vote in a new head of state had failed. It took more than two and a half years. As has become a national habit, a candidate won because a deal was struck. For a deal to go through, the interests of key powerbrokers must be empowered with measurable benefits. The loss of time helps build negotiating power. Emile Lahoud was a deal. Michel Suleiman was a deal. Aoun was a deal . . . In other words, Lebanon has never experienced presidential elections. And the governance is so broken that the people do not even ask for it. The expectation is just not there. Because why pontificate when nothing will change? This old Lebanese adage also has a habitual track record. However, just because it might — perhaps — not be feasible to have a well-governed, transparent and professional election of the next president in Lebanon today, that does not mean we should not be asking for a better practice.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.