Hands off the text

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri meets with Prime Ministers Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora and Tammam Salam at his Downtown residence on June 30, 2018. (The Daily Star/ Dalati Nohra, HO)

The Lebanese Constitution, as is the case in every democracy, is not a sacred text like the Bible or Quran, since it carries within its articles the means and tools for it to be amended – when the national interest deems it necessary. But while the Constitution can develop, its spirit and soul are certainly sacred – and one of the pillars of our country.

Trying to pull the Constitution in a different direction with various interpretations is like stepping into a minefield. Our politicians would do well to revisit the past and educate themselves on the repercussions of tampering with the text.

Think of what happened when the first President after independence Beshara Khoury and later President Camille Chamoun tried to extend their terms with constitutional changes. In the latter case, the 1958 armed conflict – and the sight of U.S. marines landing on our country’s beaches.

We have a constitutional authority tasked with dealing with these kinds of issues and maintaining the sanctity of the text. But if politicians, for the sake of personal ambition and greed, insist on changing it to suit their biased interpretation, we risk opening Pandora’s box.

Lebanon cannot afford another weight pulling this sinking ship down. In the meantime and in order to be clear about the problem we face, we have to distinguish between politicians who uphold the Constitution – reminding us to stay true to its spirit and soul – and those adamant on twisting facts (and who in most cases have barely read it).

The powers of the president and prime minister when it comes to the Constitution are crystal clear and demand a mutual respect that governs the relationship between both sides.

Changing the Constitution for personal interest driven by ulterior motives, and not for the good of Lebanon, is like playing with fire when the country is sitting on a powder keg.

All the president’s men are advised to spare the country further hardship. Pointing the finger at everyone else for the dire straits Lebanon finds itself in is futile and fools no one.

Lebanon has no time for those that act the bully. The Constitution is a deeply serious matter, not a cheap commodity.

Though many of our top political brass have become masters of mudslinging, horse-trading and political maneuvering, the Constitution must not become their target.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 06, 2018, on page 1.




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