Call of Duty
Saudis and Iranians have lately been saying: “Let the Christians agree on a President and we will accept their choice." This is how Christian leaders did harvest the fruits of their key role in the Cedar Revolution on the one hand, and in the Opposition Groups on the other hand.
I was in the United States two weeks ago and met with most of the officials in charge of Levant affairs. In every meeting the presidential election was raised and each time my stand was constant and steady: "The new President should have popular support, or at least be supported by Christian leaders, not for constitutional reasons- because the Constitution does not address the popular base of the President- but to ensure a good balance in the institutions. What would be the role and impact of the President when chairing the dialogue table with community leaders seating around the table if he does not have popular support? "
There are three groups of candidates and each of them has its own standing:
The first group is the 4 Maronite leaders who have most popular weight, although unevenly.
The second group does not have popular standing but is now leading public institutions that play a key role in Lebanon and therefore has an institutional role. I mean by this the Lebanese army commander and the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon. I am not supportive of a new amendment to the Constitution or the abuse of public service for political purposes, but this category has become close to the Presidency because of the inability to elect a candidate from the first group.
The third group holds the most likely candidate due to vetoes and counter-vetoes whether local or regional, and due to the persistence of a strong Christian divide. It is the category of consensual candidates .
Consensus on the person of the President of the Republic is a very noble principle, especially in times of sectarian and regional divides, provided that the consensual approach does not translate into the election of the remaining candidate after the series of vetoes, and who may be the smallest common denominator, i.e. the least harmful to all parties and personal and sectarian interests, instead of being the most beneficial for Lebanon.
In the current situation, the choice of a consensual candidate seems suitable if the latter has a real support by the majority of the Maronite leaders and is accepted by the majority of the political parties.
Iranians and Saudis have lately said to their Christian allies "Make up your mind before others do it for you." We also know that the Vatican - in coordination with the Maronite Church- encourages the current dialogue between the Future movement and Hezbollah on the Presidency, fearing that the persistence of the Christian divergence and vacuum witnesses no end.
The ball is now in the court of the Maronite leaders, especially Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea, but for a few weeks only.
Before the country loses this historic opportunity for a Christian agreement on the Presidency, I would like to address them with the following short statement:
The coming weeks may be your last opportunity to pick the next President. Failure to do so may bury the dream of those who died for the cause of a diversified Lebanon and an active and constructive Christian presence in the Levant.
Agree on a mechanism that would allow the election of someone who enjoys popular support or agree on a competent, honest, courageous, and wise candidate who represents you and has your support in order to lead the country from a strong and insightful position.
Yes, make up your mind because this is the call of duty and history and the demand of a large segment of the Lebanese People and the popular base that you represent .