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    Lebanon Government - 1991

      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 Ilyas Harawi was elected to succeed Muawad. In October 1990, the chances for ending the 16 year old civil war and implementing Ta'if were markedly improved when Syrian and Lebanese forces ousted renegade Christian General Awn from his stronghold in East Beirut. Awn had defied the legitimate government and established a separate mini-state within East Beirut after being appointed acting Prime Minister by outgoing President Gemayel in 1988. Awn and his supporters feared Ta'if would diminish Christian power in Lebanon and increase the influence of Syria. Since the removal of Awn, the Lebanese Government has reunited the capital city and implemented a phased plan to disarm the militias and gradually reestablish authority throughout Lebanon. The army has deployed from Beirut north along the coast road to Tripoli, southeast into the Shuf mountains, and south to the vicinity of Sidon. Many militiamen from Christian and Muslim groups have evacuated Beirut for their strongholds in the north, south, and east of the country. Some heavy weapons possessed by the militias have been turned over to the government, which has begun a plan to integrate some militiamen into the military and the internal security forces. Lebanon and Syria signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation in May 1991. Lebanon continues to be partially occupied by Syrian troops, which are deployed in East and West Beirut, its southern suburbs, the Bekaa Valley, and throughout northern Lebanon. Iran also maintains a small contingent of revolutionary guards in the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon to support 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 speaker 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--Ilyas HARAWI (since 24 November 1989); Head of Government--Prime Minister Umar KARAMI (since 20 December 1990)

      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


      Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Nassib S. LAHOUD; 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 Ryan C. CROCKER; Embassy at Antelias, Beirut (mailing address is P. O. Box 70-840, Beirut, and FPO New York 09530); 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 1991 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Lebanon Government 1991 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Lebanon Government 1991 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 08-Feb-03
    Copyright © 2003 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)