The Doha Text.
"And based on the Arab initiative to contain the Lebanese crisis and in implementation of the Arab-brokered Beirut agreement which took place on May 15, 2008, The Lebanese National Dialogue Conference was held in Doha from May 16, 2008...in the presence of the different Lebanese political leaders, who asserted their will to save Lebanon by ending the current political impasse and avoiding its dangerous consequences...,and voiced their commitment to the principles of the Lebanese Constitution and the Ta'if Accord. As a result...the following agreement has been reached:
"1 - The Parliament Speaker (Nabib Berri) will summon the Lebanese Parliament to convene, according to rules in force, within 24 hours to elect consensus candidate Gen. Michel Suleiman as president". (But because Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa insisted on attending the voting session and could not be in Beirut before May 25, the latter date was adopted. This was also to help other Arab leaders and foreign VIPs to travel to Beirut for the ceremony).
"2 - A national unity government of 30 ministers to be formed. It will comprise 16 ministers from the majority, 11 ministers from the opposition and three ministers to be named by the new president. All parties pledge not to resign from the government or hinder its work.
"3 - Adopting the qada' as the electoral constituency based on the 1960...law, but the qada's of Marjayoun and Hasbaya will continue to be one constituency and so will the qada's of Westrern Beqa' and Rashaya and the qada's of Ba'albek and Hermel". (With Beirut as: 1st constituency: Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Saifi; 2nd constituency: Bashoura, Mdawar, Marfa'; 3rd constituency: Mina al-Hosn, 'Ain el-Mreisseh, Mazra'a, Museitbeh, Ras Beirut, Zuqaq el-Blat).
"4 - All parties will commit not to resort to arms or violence in order to resolve political conflicts..."
(This dialogue had already begun in Doha and resulted in agreeing that security and military powers will be solely in the hands of the state and spreading state authority over all parts of the country so that outlaws will have no safe havens. It was alleged that Hizbullah and Amal strongholds in Beirut's Shi'ite suburbs had become safe havens for gun traders, drug dealers, prostitution and armed robbers).
"5 - Reiteration of a pledge by Lebanese political leaders to immediately refrain from using language which incites political rifts or sectarianism and from accusing each other of treason.
"This agreement was signed in Doha on May 21, 2008, by the 14 Lebanese leaders participating in the conference and in the presence of the head of the Arab Ministerial Committee and its members".
Dr. Gea'gea', however, was the only leader to write in the agreement his reservation that Gen. Suleiman was to be elected president without amending Article 49 of the constitution. The article stipulates that grade one public officials are not eligible to run for president unless they have spent two years outside office. Gea'gea', along with the other March 14 Christian leaders warned that the election without a constitutional amendment could put Suleiman's legitimacy in question should any party or politician contest it in future. This tends to undermine the status of a president being a Maronite Christian.
It was Amal leader and Parliament Speaker Berri - a puppet of the Syrian regime - who refused to get the constitution amended because this would have required a role to that effect by the Siniora government. The opposition regards this government as constitutionally illegitimate because the Shi'ite parties (Hizbullah and Amal) had left the cabinet as they confronted the March 14 coalition. Berri also forbade Siniora's government from sitting in parliament's May 25 session in its proper place. As a result, Siniora decided to boycott the session. That caused a problem, which on May 23 prompted Berri to formally extend an invitation for the Siniora government to attend the session and sit in its proper place - as a compromise. But MP Butros Harb, of the March 14 Maronite leaders, said he will cast a blank vote on May 25 to protest "this constitutional charade". To the March 14 Maronites, Berri's move was a constitutional trap set for the whole community.
Qatar Praised: The Lebanese community in Qatar on May 21 saluted efforts exerted by Emir Shaikh Hamad and PM Shaikh Hamad bin Jassem, saying: "Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad...has always taken care of Lebanon and supported it in good and bad times... Qatar has rebuilt devastated southern towns and villages after the summer 2006 [Hizbullah-Israel] war and has warmly welcomed Lebanese youth seeking better opportunities". The statement expressed gratitude for Qatar's efforts in solving the Lebanese standoff, and hoped that the GCC emirate "will remain successful and prosperous".
Among the figures expected to attend the May 25 presidential election are Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad, Arab League chief Moussa, EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Javier Solana and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. UN Chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were also among the expected guests, according to local media reports. Gen. Suleiman will be Lebanon's 12th president.
In remarks to the Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas, Gen. Suleiman said: "the Lebanese have finally chosen the path of life". He thanked Qatar and the Arab League for their efforts to end the crisis. After his election, Suleiman will start consultations with the various parliamentary blocs in a bid to name the next PM, who in turn will hold his own consultations with the same blocs to form the cabinet. Among the contenders for the PM post are Hariri and Siniora. Until May 25 Siniora had insisted on leaving the post.
After meeting US Charge d'Affaires Michele Sison on May 22, former President Gemayel said the March 14 Forces backed Hariri for the post. But later Hariri was said to have declined the post as the next cabinet would only be temporary, to resign after the spring 2009 polls.
Gen. Aoun late on May 21 told Orange TV his bloc would get five out of the opposition's 11 ministers in the government. But Aoun, who had fought desperately to be the president, is no longer as popular among Lebanon's Christians as he was during his 15 years of exile in Paris, which ended with his return to Beirut on May 7, 2005, under a secret deal he had with the Syrian regime as well as the rest of the Iran-led axis. He has turned 180[degrees], from being one of the main opponents of Syrian control over Lebanon. He was Lebanon's PM and LAF chief in October 1990, when he was defeated by Syrian forces and fled to the French embassy in Beirut. He was later flown to Paris.
Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader Jumblatt may try to bolster the position of their Christian allies. Tourism Minister Joe Sarkis, a member of the Lebanese Forces (LF), on May 21 said the LF was looking forward to getting two to four March 14 Christian ministers in the new government. The status of the rival Christian parties in the next cabinet could have a big effect on how they perform in the 2009 elections, whose outcome is likely to be determined by the Christian vote.
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|Publication:||APS Diplomat News Service|
|Date:||May 26, 2008|
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