After a nine-month deadlock it was announced on January 31 by Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Lebanon formed a new government. Hariri has been negotiating with Lebanon’s rival parties since the parliamentary elections last May. The political system that is based on a power-sharing agreement between religious groups lies at the heart of this long process. The main obstacles concerned the Iran-backed Hezbollah group gaining ground in the government and therefore appointing key ministries which would enlarge their sphere of influence.
Last week, on September 6, Clingendael organized the debate “Refugees in Lebanon: despair or perspective?” at Humanity House in the Hague, to present and discuss their recently published report on the issue of refugee protection in Lebanon. Relevant as the topic is, a small FMS delegation also attended this event. After a short introduction by the Institute’s general director Monika Sie, moderator Saskia Baas, head of the Durable Solutions Platform in Amman, introduced the two authors of the report, Clingendael senior research fellow Ana Uzelac and research fellow Jos Meester. What followed was a discussion of the report by its authors and the moderator.
Bijna negen jaar hebben de Libanezen erop moeten wachten, maar deze maand mochten ze dan toch naar de stembus om een nieuw parlement te kiezen. Jarenlange strijd, een presidentieel vacuüm, een nieuwe kieswet en het aangekondigde-maar-toch-niet-uitgevoerde vertrek van de premier gingen eraan vooraf. De uitkomst leek vast te staan, maar levert toch een aantal grote verassingen op. Hezbollah en bondgenoten winnen de meerderheid en premier Hariri’s Future Movement (FM) krijgt een forse klap: van 26 naar 19 zetels. Alle partijen willen dat er snel een kabinet komt om de torenhoge staatsschuld aan te pakken en de economie aan te jagen, maar tegelijkertijd wordt de ene na de andere blokkade opgeworpen. De winnaars ruiken hun kans om meer ministeries binnen te halen.
Sinds de Libanese premier Hariri vanuit Saudi-Arabië bekend maakte af te treden is het onrustig in het kleine land ingeklemd tussen Syrië en Israël. Ook met de parlementsverkiezingen van mei 2018, de eerste in ruim 8 jaar, in het verschiet kunnen de spanningen tussen de verschillende religieuze bevolkingsgroepen snel oplopen. Om de progressieve en non-sektarische krachten te ondersteunen, organiseerde de Foundation Max van der Stoel afgelopen weekend een trainingsseminar voor jonge activisten.
Het afgelopen weekend hadden wij een primeur bij de FMS. We organiseerden de allereerste training in Libanon. De training vond plaats in het kader van het Europese project “Future of Social Democracy in Europe and its Neighbourhood - Investing in young human capital".
Between the 8th and 11th of October the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity organized the first training weekend in the framework of the Future Leaders project. The training was attended by young representatives of social democratic and progressive political parties from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. It took place in Amman (Jordan) and focused on ideology, communication and campaigning. The Future Leaders training course is supported by the UK Labour Party through the Westminster Foundation. Our partner in Jordan, the Al Sindyan Institute provided great assistance in making the training possible, while the UK Labour Party and the Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) provided each one trainer to conduct the training.
For two months now, garbage in the streets of Lebanon has not been collected, resulting in massive piles alongside roads and the illegal dumping of garbage in the Mount Lebanon area by frustrated civilians. For many citizens this waste crisis has become symbolic for what they call an “incompetent and corrupt” government. This let them to the formation of the “You Stink” protest campaign which has organized several protests during the last couple of months. Meanwhile, different political parties have agreed to join speaker of parliament Nabih Berri on 9 September for a “national dialogue”.
Between the 27th and 30th of November the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity organized a training for representatives of social democratic parties from Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia. The training took place in Amman and focused on developing and communicating a message that is based on concrete policy issues in the region that are of importance for social democrats. The Future Leaders training course is supported by the UK Labour Party through the Westminster Foundation. Our partner in Jordan, Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture (JCDC), provided great assistance in making the training possible, while Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) and the Labour Party provided two trainers each to conduct the training.
Today, Wednesday 23 April, the Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new president. Lawmakers had to elect a successor for President Michel Suleiman, whose six-year term ends on 25 May. Political turmoil and social unrest have divided the country, making it very difficult to reach agreement on a suitable presidential candidate.
After a ten month political stalemate, Lebanon’s designated Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, announced the formation of a government of national unity. The announcement was made on Saturday 15 February and on 18 February the newly formed government met for the first time. The 24-member government unites the Shia Hezbollah party, the Sunni Future Movement and the Christian Kataeb party.