Following the expiration of former Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s six year term on October 31st, 2022, the position has yet to be filled, as the Lebanese Parliament has so far failed to elect a successor. Additionally, following the parliamentary elections that took place last May, the government – subsequently entering into caretaker status – headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, has also not been succeeded by an effective and fully empowered government, which requires an elected president, since last summer.
“Lebanon starts the new year without a president.” by Hanna Davis. Axios. Read Article Here.
At this point, the election of a new president should take the highest priority above all other issues in Lebanon. Without an elected, reform-minded president, all government actions and reforms remain at a standstill. The US should make clear their basic criteria is for a reformist president who is clean, determined, and capable of meeting the dire needs of the Lebanese people, and without such, future US aid could be in jeopardy.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Minister of Interior Assures Upcoming Municipal Elections Will Not Be Postponed for a Second Time
Caretaker Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Bassam Mawlawi, publicized the Ministry’s intention to hold the postponed municipal elections – deciding the leadership for municipalities and the makhateer – on May 31st, 2023, after last year’s polling become postponed due to electricity supply and diaspora voting considerations, among other reasons.
“Municipalities election to be held in May, Mawlawi says.” L’Orient Today. Read Article Here.
Lebanon has so far failed to make a significant dent in the “business as usual” ethos that has left the country in total disarray. With the presidential and cabinet vacuums continuing along an indefinite time frame (indicators of the political malaise throttling the country), we should begin to consider looking to the local level for emerging agents of change and reform who can mobilize to challenge the status quo. These municipal elections can enable the people to speak directly and with a clear voice on issues that affect them on a daily basis. Their outcomes won’t bring back funds from overseas or unfreeze the bank vaults, but it will give them direct control over the basic transactions that affect their lives.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader, email@example.com.
French Armed Forces Minister Visits Lebanon on Behalf of President Macron
Sebastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, under the direction of President Emmanuel Macron, visited Lebanon last week as part of an ongoing cooperation program between France and Lebanon to optimize the LAF’s capabilities and support the peacekeeping operations of the UN. Minister Lecornu visited the French contingent of UNIFIL in addition to holding meetings with Lebanese officials including Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, LAF Commander Joseph Aoun, and caretaker Minister of Defense Maurice Sleem.
“France pledges to strengthen military co-operation with Lebanon.” By Nada Maucourant Atallah. The National. Read Article Here.
Support for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is critical, now more than ever. The material and operational support from allies and friends – like the United States, France, Qatar, and others – must continue, and the multilateral support of the LAF speaks to how invested the US and its allies are in the future of Lebanon. This attentiveness to the stability and operational effectiveness of the LAF, however, is an incomplete foundation for Lebanon’s future. It is up to the political leaders to not take this international focus on Lebanon, especially from the Élysée Palace and the White House, for granted by squandering the opportunities to recover and move forward. The time is now to elect a president, form an effective government, enact the necessary financial reforms, and demonstrate to the Lebanese people that Lebanon’s leaders are equally invested in their future.
-ATFL Research Associate James McLellan
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed 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.
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