Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Lahoud Must Go, Period

President Lahoud is now and forever an ineffectual damaged official, with no moral authority whatsoever. His usefulness to the nation for the next two years is not zero, it's NEGATIVE.

Mustapha has a post on Beirut Spring disagreeing with the recent Maronite bishops' decision to not (quite) go after Lahoud. Mustapha is right. This move weakens the presidency and the country.

The (violated) constitution is meant to let a "normal" president finish his (legal) term without threat of court action for "lesser" crimes.

Now (Naharnet) Aoun says Lahoud would go, only if Aoun is the next president. That is a bad joke.

One: Lahoud knows Aoun won't easily become president. Two: who the hell is he to pick the next President? Because he made such great decisions before?

I humbly disagree with Bkirki too, and hope that politicians will be bolder (in a way that they can be, and Bkirki cannot). Yes no "force", i.e. no violence or coup. But IMHO the church, and every sane person, should dump Lahoud NOW.

The following are "no force" options possible:

--Moral pressure by all and political isolation.

--Have the "high" court (Shura) look at the "legality" of the last election.

--Threaten to try him for "treason" (taking orders from a foreign power, subordinating the nation interests to a foreign power,...).

--Change the constitution. It was changed TWICE for Mr., Lahoud. Once to put him in office and once to keep him in office. Why can't it be changed to make him go away?

The constitution is a tool to help the nation govern itself. The nation does not have to live through two years of waste, at a crucial time in our history, just because the constitution cannot be "touched".

Keeping Lahoud in office is terrible; a waste of time and it sends for the umpteenth time the DESTRUCTIVE message that there is still NO ACCOUNTABILITY in Lebanon.

What are we waiting for? Andree Lahoud is the only person Lahoud knows who is not in jail or under a cloud of suspicion, for crying out loud.


  • At 11/5/05, 10:03 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said…

    If you're going to look into the legality of his election, then you have to look at the legality of using the 2000 election law in 2005. If you want to try him for subordinating the nation to a foreign power, you have to try half of the political class with him. And lastly, the most diastrous suggestion, if you treat the constitution like a piece of toilet paper, then any parliamentary majority can do as it pleases at all times.

    You're misreading this whole thing. As unsavory as it is, as disgusting as it is, as horrible as Lahoud is, you're not looking at the whole picture with a clear head.

  • At 11/5/05, 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Perhaps this may sound very simplistic, indicating my political naivety. But what if the Patriarch and his crew are responding to the intransigence of Jumblat specifically, not to mention the countless other Syrian stooges who were criticizing Bkerki back when it was calling for the Syrians to leave, before it was fashionable to do so!

    Lahoud must go. I agree with that, but why should it fall on Bkerki to undo the dirty deed committed by parliament? Some of the people calling for his departure, had a historic opportunity to vote against extending his term, instead they acquiesced and their cowardice prevailed (Noted, Jumblat's posse didn't vote).

    Finally, I hope to see a day when Bkerki and all other religious institutions in Lebanon leave politics to politicians.


  • At 11/5/05, 12:54 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said…

    I think Boutros' first point and the first part of the second point are legitimate. As for accountability, everyone in Lebanon from Jumblat to Aoun has said the investigation does implicate him, he will face justice, period. Then he could be removed constitutionally.

    Bkerki has said precisely that this should be left to the politicians! The politicians, like Berri for instance, have insisted that this is the patriarch's call. Of course, Berri needs to say that because he and Hizbullah, with Jumblat's help, have dictated that only they get to decide the Shiite offices.

  • At 11/5/05, 12:55 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 11/5/05, 5:11 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…


    Do you expect any good to come out of Lahoud in the next 2 years?

    Do you expect him to strengthen the office, or the constitution, by his presence?

    You are giving me the argument: if we can't get all the bad guys we should not get any one. If we can't right all wrongs, let's not do anything.

    You know and I know it's never perfect and you have to pick your battles. I think this one is important and doable (and not risk-free or perfect as you suggest).

    Lahoud is particularly visible, particularly symbolic, and particularly implicated in all things "bad" which happened in the past 10 years. He is, to this day, defending Syria and its thugs. What must he do, short of axe-murdering people, for you to call for his removal?

    As to the "toilet paper" argument Anton:

    Should the very guy would used the constitution as toilet paper (TWICE I remind you) get away with it? Will that set a good constitutional precedent?

  • At 11/5/05, 5:13 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    I agree with Boutros, the job should not fall on Bkirki, but on politicians of all stripes.

    However, Bkirki "sort of" defending him (or the office) makes his removal much more difficult.

  • At 11/5/05, 7:13 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said…

    No, that's not my argument, and again you're missing the point. you're not thinking of the next step. Who comes next? Is there an agreement? What is the status of the debate on that? Who is deciding? Does Jumblat decide? Where does Hizbullah and Berri fit in? Can you answer all these questions? What exactly is Lahou'd authority right now? etc.

    Half of your arguments anyway are those of Aoun's. But you are not providing answers.

  • At 11/5/05, 7:52 PM, Anonymous Ramzi S said…


    I agree. Lahoud cannot be removed without having at least a few names that parliment can vote for. And those names should be offered by Maronites. I do not think Aoun should crown himself a la Napoleon.

    An effective president is one who is not anyones puppet but at the same time not to work against the majority in parliment and Seniora. That will not help things. The new president should be a contributing partner to Seniora. Aoun is not that man unfortunately.

  • At 11/5/05, 8:18 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…


    I don't think I am missing your point. It seems you're saying: there are tough unanswered questions, and removing Lahoud is not risk-free. I agree.

    I hope you agree that the bishops' argument (at least as reported in the press), about the constitution and protecting the office does not make any sense.

    If you want to argue "the devil we know", fine. I still disagree but I can see the argument.

    This post was meant to be a short piece (originally a comment on another blog), and purported to cover one or two arguments among many for removal.

    In short, there are bad risks both ways, but I think it's worse keeping Lahoud, you don't.

    In a sense you are advocating kicking the can up the road (which may be wise at times).

    Again, I think you raise good questions, but making a clean break when so much happened, and the guy's carrying horrendous baggage, these tip the scale for me. Also there are no guarantees your questions (Hezb, who's next ..) will be answered in two years.

    A side question for you: Given your tough position on Hezbo which I agree with, isn't that another negative in keeping Lahoud (their ally)? Or do you think it is a plus in that it will tend to keep them relatively quiet?

  • At 11/5/05, 9:34 PM, Anonymous Ramzi S said…

    "keeping Lahoud (their ally)? Or do you think it is a plus in that it will tend to keep them relatively quiet?"

    Lahoud in office is keaping Hezb quiet?? If Hezballah is quiet currently, I would hate to see when you consider them noisy.

    I agree Josey with your main points for why Lahoud should go. But how I wish the country was also having these arguments about Berri...

  • At 11/6/05, 7:48 AM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    Yes Ramzi,

    "relatively" quiet.. could be worse. Crazy world.

    Like I said earlier, many baddies out there, get the ones you can get. Lahoud is very weak now.

    Also we keep going in circles: Let Lahoud stay. Then if Berri is implicated in something next year, and you demand he goes, the response will be: Look at lahoud, he is still there, why should Berri go?....ad infinitum.

  • At 11/6/05, 7:34 PM, Blogger Ghassan said…

    Lahoud is suffering being a president more than what he will suffer if he went to a foreign country to retire! He is being ignored, can't do anything harmful to the country (he has done plenty already) and letting Seniora govern the country!
    Re: Aoun, I really like to see a president who is loyal to the WHOLE country and against corruption but unfortunately, Aoun is too stuborn to be a partner! He "Aoun" likes to play by himself and the country in this critical time more than ever need cooperation with all groups! Aoun's background as a military officer is affecting his way (as a politician) dealing with other politicians!

    Re: Constitution, it should be sacred and not open to change anytime the MP want to change it. I think it should be up to the people whenever it will be modified! Have a referendum and let the people vote to adopt it by yes or no!

    The bottom line, let's take things slowly and one step as a time!

    God Protect Lebanon!

  • At 11/8/05, 9:30 PM, Anonymous vox said…

    I disagree with you Tony. First of all, the constitution is already a toilet paper because of Lahoud's presence and the numerous amendments. The legitimacy of the state comes from fair elections and a fair electoral law, not from an already infamous constitution.

    Judging Lahoud for high treason is the right thing to do and it will give the constitution a new political virginity. It will not undermine the constitution, on the contrary. This argument was invented by Aoun to justify his presidential dreams. It may be true that half of the political class is no better than our president-directeur-general but it's possible to judge Lahoud without judging the rest of them. Why Lahoud and not the others? Because it's possible to do so in the real world. Lahoud has no popular support and is 'expandable'.

    More importantly, if we wait a lot of time to remove Lahoud, then the FM could simply wait until his mandate expires. Remember when Jumblat questioned the concept of consensual democracy. Consensual democracy in Lebanon has no legal existence and is in fact a very recent invention. Informal consensual democracy can exist if the electoral law is rewritten, but consensus is an utopia for now.

    The Christians will have no chips to bargain if they wait too much. The fact that the Sunnis chose the PM and the Shias chose the speaker does not mean that the Christians can chose the next president in 2007. We may lose the presidency AND the chance to rewrite the electoral law. Christians don't even have 1/3 of the seats under the current system (let alone 50% of the parliament).

    You could argue that all this talk is useless. You need a 2/3 majority to oust Lahoud, something that cannot be secured without Aoun. But it is unacceptable that Aoun or Lahoud cannot chose the next president alone. The FM will never accept this and I can't blame them.

    The Christians must strike a deal now or remain silent forever. Aoun's behaviour is a danger for our political survival.

    The last chance is the Mehlis report. But I think that Mehlis has played all his cards against Lahoud - unless one of the 4 generals or another big shot testify against Lahoud.

  • At 11/9/05, 6:46 AM, Blogger Concerned Lebanese said…

    The only way that Lebanon can move on is by putting behind us who elects who. Lebanon's biggest problem is that the sectarian divide will never be resolved as long as the president has to be a maronite, the pm a sunni and the speaker a shiaa. The people must elect their leaders and that is impossible because of the influnce that leaders have on their people (Hariri,Aoun,Junblatt and Hizbollah). The next president has to be someone who is accepted by all and not linked to any of the large political groups. Lahoud must be ousted so should Berri. The biggest mistake made during the 2005 elections was the re-election of Berri. Hopefully he will not complete this 4 year term as speaker. I love this county but a change is needed. We need to separate religon and state. Bikirki should not be involved in politics neither should any of these muftis.


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