BEIRUT

Editorial

Maronites’ fatal divide

President Michel Sleiman speaks during a ceremony to launch the administrative decentralization bill at Baabda Palace on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/DalatiNohra)

The pre-eminent Christian political post in Lebanon moved closer to becoming vacant when MPs failed to gather in Parliament Wednesday to elect a successor to President Michel Sleiman.

The March 8 camp demonstrated its commitment to blocking the process, following its deployment of blank ballots last week with an even simpler strategy this time around: staying away from the legislature building to prevent a quorum.

The Christian political community, meanwhile, has no such plan of action. Lebanon is a collection of minorities, and several key groups – Sunnis, Shiites and Druze – have an unquestioned “leader,” while the Christians, and most importantly the Maronites, are divided over who represents them politically.

In theory, it is perfectly understandable to see multiple Maronite presidential candidates, but in practice, each candidate is busy looking for support from other communities, unable to benefit from the backing of his own sect.

However, the core problem is that Maronite political leaders have ignored their earlier agreements to ensure that the election take place. Until Maronite leaders, and along with them the community they claim to represent, get their own house in order, no improvement in their situation can be expected. They should know by now that Lebanese politics respects only strength and cohesiveness, which the Maronites profoundly lack.

The Christians have long complained of being politically marginalized, but it is time to demand an answer to the question: Who exactly is responsible for this marginalization? If these leaders are unable to stick to a simple agreement about the need for a new president, there’s no reason to expect them to agree on even more complex questions that affect their political future.

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

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Summary

The pre-eminent Christian political post in Lebanon moved closer to becoming vacant when MPs failed to gather in Parliament Wednesday to elect a successor to President Michel Sleiman.

Lebanon is a collection of minorities, and several key groups – Sunnis, Shiites and Druze – have an unquestioned "leader," while the Christians, and most importantly the Maronites, are divided over who represents them politically.

The Christians have long complained of being politically marginalized, but it is time to demand an answer to the question: Who exactly is responsible for this marginalization? If these leaders are unable to stick to a simple agreement about the need for a new president, there's no reason to expect them to agree on even more complex questions that affect their political future.


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