As dawn broke today, five days of talks between Lebanon's leading politicians on the country's internal crisis finally came to a head, just in time to stop the country from sliding into civil war.
More divided than ever after Hezbollah's military campaign of early May, Lebanon's leading figures — except for the Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah — began negotiations in Doha, Qatar, on May 16. Today they finally came to an agreement, promising the country a president and a new government by Sunday. While the country's leaders talked, the people of Lebanon protested on the streets, exasperated with the situation. Today, they can finally put down their banners.
"Our political leaders redrew the electoral map without asking anyone"
Omar Abdel Samad is a member of the association Towards Citizenship and the collective Khallas. He took part in protests while the talks were going on.I'm happy about this agreement, but I deplore how long it took to get there, that the city has been paralysed since December 2006. History repeats itself — nobody talks until blood has been shed. Last week we got together with other non-political organisations and NGOs to express our exasperation about it. We wanted to make our message clear — that's enough! We refused that they come back from Doha empty handed.
But what a disgrace to have to leave the country to negotiate a solution anyway! Are we unable to negotiate on our own ground? However, despite these things, I'm satisfied that the agreement was signed and we can finally get back to rebuilding our institutions after a breakdown of over a month. We'll have a president, a new government and a parliament that can open its doors again. All that is positive, except for one thing: Our political leaders redrew the electoral map without asking anyone and without taking in the findings of the Boutros commission, which worked on the subject. Don't think that we're going to forget the clashes that happened at the beginning of the month — the wounds are still fresh. Just because this agreement's been signed doesn't mean we'll forget what's happened in the past few weeks.
"Did 70 people have to die and 200 get injured to get here?"
Chadi Bou Habib is a Lebanese economist from Beirut.
My reaction is simple — did 70 people have to die and 200 get injured to get here? Couldn't we have found a solution before this colossal loss of life and waste of resources? Did they have to drag themselves over to Doha and get locked up by the prince for five days to find a way? Thanks to the emir, but no thanks to our kinglets. This is a political class that lacks skills ... in politics! This is a political class that would blame the lack of consensus; other people ... even aliens, for all of Lebanon's tragedies.
Lebanese people marched the streets for the past week to express their frustration at what they call the "political incompetence" of their leaders. One group ran a banner on the bus to Beirut airport reading: "If you don't agree, don't come back!" The slogan soon became popular among the protesters and was spread via groups on Facebook.
Anti-war campaign ad
An ad by Lowe Mena has caused a stir after being shown on various TV channels in Lebanon. The end reads: "More than 200,000 victims. More than 3,700 car bombs. More than a million emigrated. And we still haven't understood. That's enough."