BEYOND TAEF: TAKING DECENTRALIZATION SERIOUSLY

Tamer Mallat

Political reform and constitutional amendment have been at the heart of all debate relating to the future of the country since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990. The 1989 Taef agreement, which stipulates a constitutional reform that leans towards the secularization of Lebanese politics- or in more Lebanese terms, the deconfessionalisation of the country -, has since remained the mantra for most Lebanese, politicians and citizens alike.

Taef is twenty this year. Its more significant clauses have yet to be adopted, despite their incorporation in the Constitution in 1990. The seven-page agreement puts forward three important ideas: first, the shift from a sectarian to a national based political system where confessional politics would be eventually abrogated and where a Senate would be reinstated to represent all spiritual families of the country (Article 95 of the Constitution); second, the transfer of executive power from the President to the Cabinet (Article 17 of the Constitution); and third, administrative decentralization. It is arguable that the change from presidential to cabinet system has made much difference in the continued deadlocks in the country. For sure the two other basic changes have yet to be applied. (…)

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