Time to end the bickering and re-examine Taif

Do Lebanon’s woes lie in the failure to implement the accord, or within the agreement itself?

By Adnan El-Ghoul , Daily Star staff


BEIRUT: Despite receiving “verbal” approval from most Lebanese politicians, the Taif Accord has so far failed to produce an accurate representation of Lebanese voters, and many Lebanese have begun to doubt whether their politicians are actually committed to building a republic based on the the 1989 peace agreement.

One of the accord’s major setbacks was the establishment of the “troika” system, which led to one of the country’s top three leaders – the house speaker, prime minister and president – overpowering the other two. The speaker has the power to decide on most legislative issues.

Accordingly, some political circles have not bothered to hide their disappointment, claiming Taif has deepened the sectarian divide instead of solving the questions of equality and coexistence between Lebanon’s different sects and religious groups.

Others believe Taif too ambiguous, subject to interpretation and fails to offer the minimum requirements upon which to build and sustain a genuine national reconciliation.

Still others wonder whether the accord itself has not pushed Lebanon to the brink of disaster in which the country now finds itself.

Those who support the Taif Accord accuse their opponents of backing away from the agreement and betting on a new political power balance and changing international dynamics to gain a “more favorable deal.”

Regardless of which camp one prescribes, the country is still subject to major uncertainties resulting from a failure to resolve controversial domestic issues coupled with expected international pressure to implement the remaining clauses of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

Forgetting for a moment regional and international influence, Parliament is the only constitutional organization (at least in principle) in place to prevent chaos and provide answers to reservations and fears arising from the Taif Accord.

The key question is will the new Parliament, expected to be formed over the next few weeks, play a reconciliatory role or be part of the problem?

The new Parliament is likely to reflect the national divide and the present government’s failure to reach a consensus on the more pressing issues facing the country, despite efforts exerted locally and from abroad.

However, a failure to realize a new electoral law and instead adopting the 2000 version will only lead to further mistrust amongst voters, as well as inflict heavy damage to any new Parliament’s credibility.