Political soap opera that is now beyond a joke

Posted in Broader Middle East | 14-Apr-05 | Author: Hanna Anbar and Michael Glacki| Source: The Daily Star (Lebanon Edition)

A huge Lebanese flag waves next to the civil war-damaged Martyrs statue in downtown Beirut, Lebanon.


If the shenanigans surrounding the last six weeks were a soap opera people would dismiss it as too ridiclulous. At a time when the people of Lebanon are earning the respect of the world for their unity and determination to rise above this country's many problems, our politicians are inviting ridicule.

Lebanon has been in a political vacuum since February 28 when that memorable display of people power gave Premier Karami his marching orders.

Since then we have had to live with continuing political uncertainty and a spate of bomb attacks aimed at terrifying the nation and crippling its economy.

The bomb attacks, which lest we forget have already killed three and caused millions of dollars of damage to businesses, have led to the formation of vigilante groups which has in turn raised fears of the re-emergence of sectarian-based militias.

Lebanon is thankfully a long way short of being on the verge of a new civil war, but it's no thanks to the motley crew who have been busy arguing about what plum post they or their friends should get in the new interim Cabinet while all around them is in flames.

Playing politics at a time like this is nothing short of a crime. It attacks the very integrity of the principle of government and the notion of representing and providing leadership to people.

If we trapped half the hot air generated by the last six week's of Cabinet-forming talks, we could have flown all of Syria's troops back to Damascus in one giant balloon. This ill-fated Cabinet had but one task to perform: frame an electoral law to enable the people of Lebanon to decide on whom they want to run this country at next month's polls.

Without elections we face more street demonstrations, international isolation and the status of a banana republic, where the whims of a few men in office take precedent over the people who elect them. The only people who stand to benefit from a delay are the same self-serving politicians who stand to be looking for new employment if the polls take place on schedule.

We have called in the past for President Lahoud to emerge from his stupor and show leadership. Today he must move quickly to fast track consultations for a new premier to be in place to form a Cabinet by early next week. If Parliament rejects the Cabinet so be it, but let's at least get to a stage where we have a government for our legislative body to run the ruler over.

And most importantly, Lahoud must give this country, and the international community, a firm commitment that polls will take place on time next month.

As this week's festive events in Beirut have shown, the Lebanese are cut from a resilient stone. It is sad that their politicians have again proved to be a bunch of self-serving careerists incapable of properly representing the kind of vibrant democracy the Lebanese so richly deserve.

The Lebanese are united. It's the politicians who are taking Lebanon to the verge of the abyss.