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    Lebanon Government - 1989

      Note: Between early 1975 and late 1976 Lebanon was torn by civil war between its Christians--then aided by Syrian troops--and its Muslims and their Palestinian allies. The cease-fire established in October 1976 between the domestic political groups generally held for about six years, despite occasional fighting. Syrian troops constituted as the Arab Deterrent Force by the Arab League have remained in Lebanon. Syria's move toward supporting the Lebanese Muslims and the Palestinians and Israel's growing support for Lebanese Christians brought the two sides into rough equilibrium, but no progress was made toward national reconciliation or political reforms--the original cause of the war. Continuing Israeli concern about the Palestinian presence in Lebanon led to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Israeli forces occupied all of the southern portion of the country and mounted a summer-long siege of Beirut, which resulted in the evacuation of the PLO from Beirut in September under the supervision of a multinational force (MNF) made up of US, French, and Italian troops. Within days of the departure of the MNF, Lebanon's newly elected president, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated. In the wake of his death, Christian militiamen massacred hundreds of Palestinian refugees in two Beirut camps. This prompted the return of the MNF to ease the security burden on Lebanon's weak Army and security forces. In late March 1984 the last MNF units withdrew. Lebanon continues to be partially occupied by Syrian troops. Israel withdrew the bulk of its forces from the south in 1985, it still retains a 10-km-deep security zone just north of the 1949 Armistice Line. Israel continues to arm and train the Army of South Lebanon (ASL), which occupies the security zone and opposes the return of Palestinian fighters to South Lebanon. The ASL has also been involved in confronting Shia and leftist militias sponsored by Syria. Sporadic fighting between Shia and Palestinian forces based in the refugee camps of Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre escalated between October 1986 and January 1987, finally breaking into major combat in February. At its height, fighting in West Beirut pitted the Shia against the Druze, leftist militias, Sunnis, and Palestinians. At the request of then Prime Minister Rashid Karami and other Muslim members of the government, Syria dispatched troops and Special Forces units to West Beirut to restore order in February. Syria also maintains troops in the Riyaq area of the Bekaa Valley and the Al Matn, while Special Forces units are stationed along the Syrian-Lebanese border and in the Tripoli area. In late 1985 the Syrian regime negotiated a tripartite agreement among the three major rival Christian, Druze, and Shia militias, but implementation failed. The Christian and Muslim communities remain deeply split. Israel and Lebanon signed a withdrawal agreement on 17 May 1983. The agreement was never implemented and was subsequently voided. A partial Israeli withdrawal and government attempts to extend authority have led to renewed factional fighting. The following description is based on the present constitutional and customary practices of the Lebanese system.

      Long-form name: Republic of Lebanon; note--may be changed to Lebanese Republic

      Type: republic

      Capital: Beirut

      Administrative divisions: 5 governorates (muhafazat, singular--muhafazah); Al Biqa, Al Janub, Ash Shamal, Bayrut, Jabal Lubnan

      Independence: 22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

      Constitution: 26 May 1926 (amended)

      Legal system: mixture of Ottoman law, canon law, Napoleonic code, and civil law; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

      National holiday: Independence Day, 22 November (1943)

      Branches: power lies with the president, who is elected by unicameral legislature (National Assembly); Cabinet appointed by president, approved by legislature; independent secular courts on French pattern; religious courts for matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and so forth; by custom, the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the president of the legislature is a Shia Muslim; each of nine religious communities are represented in the legislature in proportion to their national numerical strength, derived from an outdated census

      Leaders: @m5Chief of State--(vacant) Parliament failed to select a new president before President Amine Pierre GEMAYEL's term expired on 23 September 1988; @m5Head of Government--Acting Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Michel AWN (since 23 September 1988); Acting Prime Minister Salim al-HUSS (since 1 June 1987)
      @m5Note: Gemayel's last act as president was to appoint Gen. Michel Awn as prime minister. However, the acting prime minister, Salim al-Huss refuses to step down, resulting in two contending governments--one led by the Maronite Christian Awn and the other by the Sunni Muslim Huss

      Suffrage: compulsory for all males over 21; authorized for women over 21 with elementary education

      Elections: National Assembly election held every four years or within three months of dissolution of Chamber; security conditions have prevented parliamentary elections since April 1972

      Political parties and leaders: political party activity is organized along largely sectarian lines; numerous political groupings exist, consisting of individual political figures and followers motivated by religious, clan, and economic considerations; most parties have well-armed militias, which are still involved in occasional clashes

      Communists: the Lebanese Communist Party was legalized in 1970; members and sympathizers estimated at 2,000-3,000

      Member of: Arab League, CCC, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB--Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, ITU, IWC--International Wheat Council, NAM, OIC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WSG, WTO

      Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Dr. Abdallah BOUHABIB; Chancery at 2560 28th Street NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 939-6300; there are Lebanese Consulates General in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles; US--Ambassador John T. MCCARTHY; Embassy at Avenue de Paris, Beirut (mailing address is P. O. Box 70-840, Beirut); telephone �961� 417774 or 415802, 415803, 402200, 403300

      Flag: three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width), and red with a green and brown cedar tree centered in the white band

      NOTE: The information regarding Lebanon on this page is re-published from the 1989 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Lebanon Government 1989 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Lebanon Government 1989 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 15-Apr-03
    Copyright © 2003 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)