Ahead of the expiration of President Michel Sleiman’s term Sunday, he confirmed Thursday that he would not even consider extending his tenure, bucking a trend set by many former presidents.
This commitment to the wording of the Constitution is admirable, and is just one example of Sleiman’s strengths throughout the last six years.
Having led the country throughout one of the toughest periods since the Civil War ended, Sleiman has calmly negotiated tense political waters, amid a faltering economy and an often dire security situation. But despite the violence and unrest that plagued the country, Sleiman will leave his seat assured that Lebanon is perhaps safer than it has been at any point over the last two years, which is in large part to his overseeing security measures put into place.
He has stood by the Army as a national institution, and was instrumental in receiving its recent $3 billion boost from Saudi Arabia. Other institutions too have received his unwavering support, at times of great instability, and even the commercial sector is looking up.
As a champion of dialogue sessions, Sleiman also assured the total approval of the Baabda Declaration, which stressed Lebanon’s neutrality in the face of the encroaching Syrian fire and set the stage for discussion of a defense strategy.
Sleiman has also visited more countries than any other predecessor, both acting as an ambassador for this small but mighty country, and reaching out to the all-important diaspora, who have oftentimes felt neglected by their government back home.
It can only be hoped that Sleiman’s successor, whomever and whenever that might be, has the same qualities of resilience and calmness under pressure that Sleiman has displayed throughout his presidency.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 23, 2014, on page 7.