| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

Vacuum threatens vital state positions in Lebanon

Institutional collapse in Lebanon is accelerating in a way that has left the country unable to manage the crises it has been facing for the past three years. Vacuum not only ails the Lebanese presidency or government, but it also threatens vital state positions.


For example, the mandate of Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh expires in August. In 45 days, the general director of the General Directorate of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, will also retire.


General managers of government offices will be leaving their positions in upcoming months.


The Lebanese fear that vacuum will infect more state institutions in the coming phase as more officials are slated to retire.


Each of the Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, Director-General of the Internal Security Forces Major General Imad Osman and Public Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oweidat are lined up for retirement in the coming period.


This will certainly raise the level of political confrontation between the components of the current authority.


Disputes would certainly arise if the caretaker government tries to fill the gaps by appointing replacements or granting extensions to incumbent officials.


Advisor to Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former minister Nicolas Nahas asserted that “the battle for the presidential vacuum will not extend to the cabinet.”


Nahas affirmed that Mikati “will carry out his duties by making appointments that fall within the narrow limits of caretaker governance.”


In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Nahas confirmed that “the prime minister is obligated to apply the constitution and to call the cabinet to convene, otherwise he will be subject to accountability and trial if he does not exercise these powers.”


Main positions in the Lebanese state are distributed over 179 jobs of the first category. Dozens of these posts will become vacant this year. Several positions had already gone unfilled in the second half of 2022.


The political authority was unable to make appointments to fill the vacancies because of failure to form a new government after the parliamentary elections that took place in mid-May.


Mohammad Chamseddine, a researcher at Information International, an independent regional research and consultancy firm based in Beirut, points out that “73 public jobs will be rendered vacant in 2023.”


“This would have a negative impact on the performance of public institutions,” noted Chamseddine.


“The inability to elect a president for Lebanon this year will exacerbate the crisis further and push for a greater vacuum,” he explained.


“In 2024, General Aoun, Major General Osman, Judge Ghassan Oweidat, and general directors in various ministries and departments will be referred to retirement,” reminded Chamseddine.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat