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Government in Lebanon


Lebanon is a parliamentary democratic republic, which implements a special system known as 'confessionalism'. This system is intended to deter sectarian conflict and attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of the 18 recognised religious groups in government. High-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Eastern Orthodox.

Until 1975, Freedom House considered Lebanon to be one of only two (together with Israel) politically free countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. The country lost this status with the outbreak of the Civil War, and never regained it again. Lebanon was rated as "Partly Free" in 2013.

The executive branch consists of the President, the head of state, and the Prime Minister, the head of government. The parliament elects the president for a non-renewable six-year term by a two-third majority. The president appoints the Prime Minister, following consultations with the parliament. The President and the Prime Minister form the Cabinet, which must also adhere to the sectarian distribution set out by confessionalism.

Lebanon's national legislature is called the Assembly of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwab). Its 128 seats are divided equally between Christians and Muslims, proportionately between the 18 different denominations and proportionately between its 26 regions. Prior to 1990, the ratio stood at 6:5 in favour of Christians; however, the Taif Accord, which put an end to the 1975-1990 civil war, adjusted the ratio to grant equal representation to followers of the two religions. The Parliament is elected for a four-year term by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation.

Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system consists of three levels: courts of first instance, courts of appeal and the court of cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, with rules on matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. Lebanese law does not provide for Civil marriage (although it recognises such marriages contracted abroad); efforts by former President Elias Hrawi to legalise civil marriage in the late 1990s floundered on objections mostly from Muslim clerics. Additionally, Lebanon has a system of military courts that also has jurisdiction over civilians for crimes of espionage, treason and other crimes that are considered to be security-related. These military courts have been criticised by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International for "seriously falling short of international standards for fair trial" and having "very wide jurisdiction over civilians".


Country name : conventional long form: Lebanese Republic
conventional short form: Lebanon
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah
local short form: Lubnan
former: Greater Lebanon
Government type : republic
Capital : name: Beirut
geographic coordinates: 33 52 N, 35 30 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions : 6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beqaa, Beyrouth (Beirut), Liban-Nord, Liban-Sud, Mont-Liban, Nabatiye
note: two new governorates - Aakkar and Baalbek-Hermel - have been legislated but not yet implemented
Independence : 22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
Constitution : 23 May 1926; amended a number of times, most recently in 1990 to include changes necessitated by the Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Taif Accord) of October 1989
Legal system : mixed legal system of civil law based on the French civil code, Ottoman legal tradition, and religious laws covering personal status, marriage, divorce, and other family relations of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities
International law organisation participation : has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage : 21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorised for women at age 21 with elementary education; excludes military personnel
Executive branch : note: following the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Miqati and his Cabinet on 22 March 2013, the government is in caretaker status until a new prime minister is named and a new cabinet is formed
chief of state: President Michel Sulayman (since 25 May 2008)
head of government: Prime Minister Najib Miqati (since 7 July 2011), Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbil (since 7 July 2011)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 25 May 2008 (next to be held in 2014); the prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly
election results: Michel Sulayman elected president; National Assembly vote - 118 for, 6 abstentions, 3 invalidated; 1 seat unfilled due to death of incumbent
Legislative branch : unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Nuwab (Arabic) or Assemblee Nationale (French) (128 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by group - March 8 Coalition 54.7%, March 14 Coalition 45.3%; seats by group - March 14 Coalition 71; March 8 Coalition 57; seats by party following 16 July 2012 by-election held to fill one seat - March 14 Coalition 72, March 8 Coalition 56
Judicial branch : Constitutional Council (rules on the constitutionality of laws); Judicial Council (for politically sensitive and serious criminal cases); Supreme Council (for charges against the president and prime minister as needed); Courts of Cassation (3 for civil and commercial cases and 1 for criminal cases); judicial courts (for first instance civil, commercial, and criminal cases); administrative courts (for issues arising from decisions issued by the state or its branches); religious courts (for issues of personal status, family; Lebanon recognises 18 religious denominations); military courts (for issues related to military and national security)
Political parties and leaders : 14 March Coalition: Democratic Left [Ilyas Atallah]; Democratic Renewal Movement [Nassib Lahud]; Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad al-Hariri]; Kataeb Party [Amine Gemayel]; Lebanese Forces [Samir Ja'ja]; Tripoli Independent Bloc
8 March Coalition: Development and Resistance Bloc [Nabih Berri, leader of Amal Movement]; Free Patriotic Movement [Michel Aoun]; Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc [Mohammad Ra'ad] (includes Hezbollah [Hassan Nasrallah]); Nasserite Popular Movement [Usama Saad]; Popular Bloc [Elias Skaff]; Syrian Ba'th Party [Sayez Shukr]; Syrian Social Nationalist Party [Ali Qanso]; Tashnaq [Hovig Mekhitirian]
Independent: Democratic Gathering Bloc [Walid Jumblatt, leader of Progressive Socialist Party]; Metn Bloc [Michel Murr]
Political pressure groups and leaders : Maronite Church [Patriarch Bishara al-Ra'i]
other: note - most sects retain militias and a number of militant groups operate in Palestinian refugee camps
International organisation participation : ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US : chief of mission: Ambassador Antoine Chedid
chancery: 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6300
fax: [1] (202) 939-6324
consulate(s) general: Detroit, New York, Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US : chief of mission: Ambassador Maura Connelly
embassy: Awkar, Lebanon (Awkar facing the Municipality)
mailing address: P. O. Box 70-840, Antelias, Lebanon; from US: US Embassy Beirut, 6070 Beirut Place, Washington, DC 20521-6070
telephone: [961] (4) 542600, 543600
fax: [961] (4) 544136
Flag description : three horizontal bands consisting of red (top), white (middle, double width), and red (bottom) with a green cedar tree centred in the white band; the red bands symbolise blood shed for liberation, the white band denotes peace, the snow of the mountains and purity; the green cedar tree is the symbol of Lebanon and represents eternity, steadiness, happiness and prosperity
National symbol(s) : cedar tree
National anthem : name: "Kulluna lil-watan" (All Of Us, For Our Country!)
lyrics/music: Rachid Nakhle/Wadih Sabra
note: adopted 1927; the anthem was chosen following a nationwide competition




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