Lebanon is celebrating its 66th anniversary of independence from France, and the president has used the occasion to call for the setting up of a committee that the 1989 constitution said should have been formed no later than 1992.
Its role is to change the Lebanese political landscape by putting an end to the faith-based division of power in the country. Since 1920 Lebanon’s three top jobs have been shared out between the Maronite Christian, Sunni and Shia muslim communitites. The President is always Maronite Christian, the prime minister Sunni, and the president of parliament Shi’ite. The current incumbents, Michel Suleiman, Saad Hariri, and Nabih Berri were side by side for the ceremonies, and analysts say it is likely they discussed the issue before Suleiman made the announcement. However it is in none of their interests to see a change to sectarian-based politics, as they would lose power and influence. Suleiman has called for the committee without putting a written proposal to parliament, so it is being seen more as a testing of the waters to guage the reaction of Lebanon’s political class.