Hollow initiative

MP Michel Aoun speaks during a news conference in Rabieh, north of Beirut, Monday, June 30, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

Michel Aoun’s “initiative” to end the political impasse in Lebanon, presented Monday, offered the latest example of how distant the country is from a resolution to the debilitating situation of stalemate.

Aoun used his televised news conference to unveil supposedly groundbreaking ideas for electing a president, namely a two-staged election to allow Christians, and then all Lebanese, to select a head of state.

In reality, Aoun submitted this idea and a few others in a bid to resurrect his presence after his failure to convince former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Future Movement that he deserved to be considered a compromise candidate for the presidency.

Instead of moving in the direction of a possible compromise, the public only heard how Aoun has been right about everything all along, ever since his late 1980s opposition to the Taif Accord.

Aoun stuck stubbornly to his stance that only he deserves to be president, as evidenced by his view that an election is not worth holding unless “the right” president is elected, meaning himself.

As for the stalemate over parliamentary elections, Aoun also ignored the strong signal by Speaker Nabih Berri that a new law, based on consensus, must be adopted. The FPM leader merely continued to move backward, advocating the notion that MPs should be elected by their sects, a proposal that was dead in the water when it was promoted over the last few years.

In the end, it was a case of behaving cavalierly with regard to matters of huge national significance, and people who have a long enough memory would have been surprised by absolutely nothing in Aoun’s latest proposals and rhetoric.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 01, 2014, on page 7.




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