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    Lebanon Government - 1990

      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. Lebanese Parliamentarians met in Taif, Saudi Arabia in late 1989 and concluded a national reconciliation pact that codified a new power-sharing formula, specifiying a Christian president but giving Muslims more authority. Rene Muawad was subsequently elected president on 4 November 1989, ending a 13-month period during which Lebanon had no president and rival Muslim and Christian governments. Muawad was assassinated 17 days later, on 22 November; on 24 November Elias Harawi was elected to succeed Muawad. Progress toward lasting political compromise in Lebanon has been stalled by opposition from Christian strongman Gen. Michel Awn. Awn--appointed acting Prime Minister by outgoing president Amin Gemayel in September 1988--called the national reconciliation accord illegitimate and has refused to recognize the new Lebanese Government. Lebanon continues to be partially occupied by Syrian troops. Syria augmented its troop presence during the weeks following Muawad's assassination. Troops are deployed in West Beirut and its southern suburbs, in Al Biqa, and in northern Lebanon. Iran also maintains a small contingent of revolutionary guards in Al Biqa, from which it supports Lebanese Islamic fundamentalist groups. Israel withdrew the bulk of its forces from the south in 1985, although it still retains troops in a 10-km-deep security zone north of its border with Lebanon. Israel arms and trains the Army of South Lebanon (ASL), which also occupies the security zone and is Israel's first line of defense against attacks on its northern border. 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)

      Executive branch: president, prime minister, Cabinet; note--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

      Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (Arabic--Majlis Alnuwab, French--Assemblee Nationale)

      Judicial branch: four Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases)

      Leaders: Chief of State--Elias HARAWI (since 24 November 1989); Head of Government--Prime Minister Salim AL-HUSS (since 24 November 1989)

      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

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

      Elections: National Assembly--elections should be held every four years but security conditions have prevented elections since May 1972

      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 (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Suleiman RASSI; note--the former Lebanese Ambassador, Dr. Abdallah Bouhabib, is loyal to Gen. Awn and has refused to abandon his residence or relinquish his post; 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 p961o 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 1990 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Lebanon Government 1990 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Lebanon Government 1990 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 07-Feb-03
    Copyright © 2003 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)