Lebanon: Towards Lasting Unity and Tranquility

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mehr News 

Members of the Lebanese Parliament meet on 25th of May 2008 in the presence of a large number of foreign dignitaries and political figures to elect Michel Suleiman, the commander of the Lebanese Army as the next president of the country. With the election of Suleiman as the president having the support of all the parties, it is hoped that Lebanon will start moving in the direction of lasting tranquility and unity away from foreign intervention.

The election of Suleiman as the new Lebanese president comes after various Lebanese groups reached agreement in Doha, Qatar to end the domestic crisis in their country.

The agreement was inked after holding several sessions under the supervision of Arab League foreign ministers and following several rounds of consultations by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani  and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

The ruling party and the opposition groups in Lebanon agreed on election of Michel Suleiman as the president as well as formation of a national unity government comprising 30 ministers with one third of the seats going to the opposition. They also agreed to respect the 1960 election law with some modifications.

The national unity government will comprise 30 minister, including 16 from the ruling party, 11 from the opposition and three to be introduced by the new Lebanese president.

The Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has officially invited international personalities and statesmen from a number of countries including Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to attend the ceremony.

The Emir and the prime minister of Qatar, secretary general of the Arab League; members of the ministerial committee of the Arab League (including foreign ministers of Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Algeria, Djibouti, Oman, Morocco, Yemen); EU foreign policy commissioner Javier Solana; Kuwaiti foreign minister and parliament speaker; special envoy of the Sudanese president Mostafa Othman Esmail; and Iraqi parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani will be among other participants.

Also attending the ceremony will be the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner; a delegation from the US Congress; the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan; Saudi Foreign Minister Suad al-Faisal; Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit; Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos; and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

After swearing-in ceremony, General Suleiman is expected to outline the general policies of his 6-year presidential term. Suleiman, 60, will be the 12th president of Lebanon and the third army commander taking up the post.

The Lebanese parliament has 128 representatives but after assassination of MP Antoine Ghanem no one has taken his seat yet.

After the end of Emile Lahoud's presidential term on November 24, Lebanon has been without a president. Meetings to elect a president have been postponed 19 times ever since.

Who Is Michel Suleiman?

Michel Suleiman was born in the town of Amshit in Jbeil (North Lebanon) on November 21, 1948. He graduated from the College of War in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant. He holds a degree of political and administrative science from the University of Lebanon and has full command of the English and French. He is married and father of three.

Suleiman had a rapid rise through the ranks and was appointed head of the intelligence section of Jbeil in 1990-1991. He was active at the Joint Staff Command of the Army from 1991 till 1993. Between 1993 and 1996 he was commander of the 11th infantry brigade when the army was engaged in severe clashes with the Israeli troops in West Becca and South Lebanon.

In 1996 he was appointed commander of 6th brigade and served there till 1998. On December 21, 1998 Suleiman was appointed the commander of the Lebanese army.

General Suleiman had received 12 medals and plaques of honor during his service at the army. He has also passed four military training courses in Belgium, France and the United States.

He also has campaign against terrorism, discovery of several Israeli terror and espionage networks, including the espionage network in 2006 in his card record. Among other records of Suleiman one can mention his operations against hardline terrorist networks in early 2000 and eliminating most of their members and arresting others.

He also launched an anti-terrorist operation against Fath ul-Islam network in Nahr al-Bared camp in North Lebanon in 2007.

Fighting against the Israeli regime, support for the Resistance till liberation of South Lebanon in 2000, completion of troop deployment throughout Lebanon after withdrawal of Syrian troops in 2005, reorganization of the Lebanese Army after the reform of the military service, reinforcement of the army in support of democracy and nationalism in line with safeguarding people's security are among Suleiman's other records.


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