Executive Branch Reform: Taif Accord

II. Political Reforms

B. President of Republic:

The president of republic is the head of the state and a symbol of the country's unity. He shall contribute to enhancing the constitution and to preserving Lebanon's independence, unity, and territorial integrity in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. He is the supreme commander of the armed forces which are subject to the power of the cabinet.

The president shall exercise the following powers:

1. Head the cabinet [meeting] whenever he wishes, but without voting.

2. Head the Supreme Defense Council.

3. Issues decrees and demand their publication. He shall also be entitled to ask the cabinet to reconsider any resolution it makes within 15 days of the date of deposition of the resolution with the presidential office. Should the cabinet insist on the adopted resolution, or should the grace period pass without issuing and returning the decree, the decree of the resolution shall be valid and must be published.

4. Promulgate laws in accordance with the grace period stipulated by the constitution and demand their publication upon ratification by the Chamber of Deputies. After notifying the cabinet, the president may also request reexamination of the laws within the grace periods provided by the constitution, and in accordance with the articles of the constitution. In case the laws are not issued or returned before the end of the grace periods, they shall be valid by law and they must be published.

5. Refer the bills presented to him by the Chamber of Deputies.

6. Name the prime minister-designate in consultation with the Chamber of Deputies speaker on the basis of binding parliamentary consultation, the outcome of which the president shall officially familiarize the speaker on.

7. Issue the decree appointing the prime minister independently.

8. On agreement with the prime minister, issue the decree forming the cabinet.

9. Issue decrees accepting the resignation of the cabinet or of cabinet ministers and decrees relieving them from their duties.

10. Appoint ambassadors, accept the accreditation of ambassadors, and award state medals by decree.

11. On agreement with the prime minister, negotiate on the conclusion and signing of international treaties which shall become valid only upon approval by the cabinet. The cabinet shall familiarize the Chamber of Deputies with such treaties when the country's interest and state safety make such familiarization possible. As for treaties involving conditions concerning state finances, trade treaties, and other treaties which may not be abrogated annually, they may not be concluded without Chamber of Deputies' approval.

12. When the need arises, address messages to the Chamber of Deputies.

13. On agreement with the prime minister, summon the Chamber of Deputies to hold special sessions by decree.

14. The president of the republic is entitled to present to the cabinet any urgent issue beyond the agenda.

15. On agreement with the prime minister, call the cabinet to hold a special session whenever he deems it necessary.

16. Grant special pardon by decree.

17. In the performance of his duty, the president shall not be liable unless he violates the constitution or commits high treason.

C. Prime Minister:

The prime minister is the head of the government. He represents it and speaks in its name. He is responsible for implementing the general policy drafted by the cabinet. The prime minister shall exercise the following powers:

1. Head the cabinet.

2. Hold parliamentary consultations to form the cabinet and co-sign with the president the decree forming it. The cabinet shall submit its cabinet statement to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of confidence within 30 days [of its formation]. The cabinet may not exercise its powers before gaining the confidence, after its resignation, or when it is considered retired, except within the narrow sense of disposing of affairs.

3. Present the government's general policy to the Chamber of Deputies.

4. Sign all decrees, except for decrees naming the prime minister and decrees accepting cabinet resignation or considering it retired.

5. Sign the decree calling for a special session and decrees issuing laws and requesting the reexamination of laws.

6. Summon the cabinet to meet, draft its agenda, familiarize the president of the republic in advance with the issues included in the agenda and with the urgent issues to be discussed, and sign the usual session minutes.

7. Observe the activities of the public departments and institutions, coordinate between the ministers, and issue general instructions to ensure the smooth progress of work.

8. Hold working sessions with the state agencies concerned in the presence of the minister concerned.

9. By law, act as the Supreme Defense Council's deputy chairman.

D. Cabinet:

The executive power shall be vested in the Cabinet.

The following are among the powers exercised by it:

1. Set the general policy of the State in all domains, draws up draft bills and decrees, and takes the necessary decisions for its implementation.

2. Watch over the implementation of laws and regulations and supervise the activities of all the state agencies without exception, including the civilian, military, and security departments and institutions.

3. The cabinet is the authority which controls the armed forces.

4. Appoint, dismiss, and accept the resignation of state employees in accordance with the law. 5. It has the right to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies at the request of the president of the republic if the chamber refuses to meet throughout an ordinary or a special session lasting no less than one month, even though it is summoned twice consecutively, or if the chamber sends back the budget in its entirety with the purpose of paralyzing the government. This right may not be exercised again for the same reasons which called for dissolving the chamber in the first instance.

6. When the president of the republic is present, he heads cabinet sessions. The cabinet shall meet periodically at special headquarters. The legal quorum for a cabinet meeting is 2/3 the cabinet members. The cabinet shall adopt its resolutions by consent. If impossible, then by vote. The resolutions shall be adopted by a majority of the members present. As for major issues, they require the approval of 2/3 the cabinet members. The following shall be considered major issues: The state of emergency and it abolition, war and peace, general mobilization, international agreements and treaties, the state's general budget, comprehensive and long-term development plans, the appointment of top-level civil servants or their equivalent, reexamination of the administrative division, dissolving the Chamber of Deputies, the election law, the citizenship law, the personal status laws, and the dismissal of cabinet ministers.

E. Minister: The minister's powers shall be reinforced in a manner compatible with the government's general policy and with the principle of collective responsibility. A minister shall not be relieved from his position unless by cabinet decree or unless the Chamber of Deputies withdraws its confidence from him individually.

F. Cabinet Resignation, Considering Cabinet Retired, and Dismissal of Ministers:

1. The cabinet shall be considered retired in the following cases: a. If its chairman resigns.

b. If it looses more than 1/3 of its members as determined by the decree forming it.

c. If its chairman dies.

d. At the beginning of a president's term.

e. At the beginning of the Chamber of Deputies' term.

f. When the Chamber of Deputies withdraws its confidence from it on an initiative by the chamber itself and on the basis of a vote of confidence.

2. A minister shall be relieved by a decree signed by the president of the republic and the prime minister, with cabinet approval.

3. When the cabinet resigns or is considered retired, the Chamber of Deputies shall, by law, be considered to be convened in a special session until a new cabinet is formed. A vote-of-confidence session shall follow.

Implementation History

1989

Full Implementation

As part of the political reform, Lebanon’s parliament elected Rene Moawad, 64, a longtime Christian politician and who was strongly backed by Syria. He received 52 of 58 votes. There were only 58 survivors of the 99-member parliament elected in 1972 (Soruce: President Elected In Lebanon; Aoun Rejects Decision; New Leader Appeals to Army, But Backing Remains Uncertain, The Washington Post, November 6, 1989). Immediately after the election of the president, Moslem acting Prime Minister Selim Hoss announced the resignation of his government. But, president Moawad designated Selim Hoss as prime minister on 13 November 1989. The reform stripped the Christian president of some power to give the prime minister and Parliament speaker, both Moslems, a broader role.1

Newly elected President Rene Moawad was assassinated on November 22, 1989. Two days after Moawad was killed, Lebanese parliament elected a moderate Maronite Christian Elias Hrawi as Lebanon's new president. His presidency was supported by Syria.2 After the election, president Hrawi designated Selim Hoss, a Sunni Moslem, as prime minister.

On 28 November 1989, the government appointed Adm. Emile Lahoud as the country's chief of armed forces replacing Gen. Aoun.3 This was part of the initiatives to reform the executive branch of the government and give more power to the cabinet. 

  • 1. "Lebanon elects new president," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 6, 1989.
  • 2. "Deputies Elect New President In Lebanon; Leader Pledges to Pursue Efforts to End Civil War," The Washington Post, November 25, 1989.
  • 3. "Lebanon's Cabinet Appoints New Army Commander," Xinhua General News Service, November 28, 1989.
1990

Full Implementation

The executive branch reform envisaged in the Taif agreement was implemented in 1989. 

1991

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1992

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1993

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1994

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1995

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1996

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1997

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1998

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.