BEIRUT: In a move to exhibit continuous promotion and protection of independent political discussions, the “Coffee & Politics” community hosted a discussion about the Lebanese Constitution and Taif agreement (the Document of National Accord), the amendments that took place after, what was implemented, and what is still pending.
The discussion took place at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s premises in Ashrafieh on Tuesday and was navigated by Lara Saade, a constitutional and legislative lawyer with years of experience providing legal research and technical advice to government, and whose research interests focus on constitutions, power-sharing agreements, peacebuilding in post-conflict multiethnic societies.
Political experts and academic historians were among the attendees who participated in an interactive dialogue.
Saade kicked off the talk by giving a concise introduction on the Lebanese constitution and a detailed account of the nature of its implications. Saade emphasized that the Lebanese sectarian atmosphere always had its historical roots, but it was the National Pact in 1943 that rigidly institutionalized it. Within this context, Saade revisited the birth of the Taif agreement in 1989.
The attendees debated with Saade on whether the Taif agreement's main agenda was fulfilled or not.
The intellectual ping-pong went from arguments that defended the Taif agreement for allowing disparate groups to come together by providing the Lebanese people with the framework to devise a social contract, while others argued against it for its introduction to corrosive machinery for the distribution of spoils.
Saade believes that the Taif Agreement constitutes a step forward, but doesn't yet provide the basis for a more stable system in Lebanon.
“At this point, it feels like the Taif Agreement has imposed more questions than answers,” Saade said during her talk, explaining that a new approach towards understanding, clarifying, and implementing the Taif agreement should be taken to complement previous efforts.
In a one-on-one conversation, Annahar spoke to Saade about whether she believes that the Taif Agreement is a genuine settlement rather than simply a pact.
“I believe that the Taif Agreement could be the ultimate and definitive resolution of the ongoing Lebanese conflict,” Saade told Annahar, “yet the Taif Agreement was and is still being implemented within a different balance of internal forces,” she added.
Saade believes that the Taif state has not yet been able to establish a clear and relatively stable formula to rule, govern, and exercise authority because it hasn't been worded carefully.
Tracy Nehme, founder of the “Coffee & Politics” community, told Annahar that the goal of the community is to promote the discussion of politics among Lebanese citizens in a way that can benefit everyone. “It’s always good to host such discussions,” Nehme told Annahar, “people are constantly benefiting from the information shared by experts.”
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