Arab World


14. Lebanon > Constitution and Government



Lebanon declared independence in November 1941 and full autonomy was granted in 1944. A series of constitutional amendments were introduced in 1990 when the civil war came to an end. A government of National Reconciliation came into being in December 1990, which dissolved all militias in April 1991. Elections were held in 1992. Israeli troops had occupied South Lebanon since 14 March 1978, but left on 24 May 2000 after 22 years of occupation.

The incorporation of the 1990 Taif Agreement into the Lebanese constitution effectively transferred executive power from the President to the Council of Ministers. The President, in consultation with members of parliament, appoints the Prime Minister and is responsible for the promulgation and execution of laws enacted by the National Assembly. The position of Speaker was also strengthened when the term of office was lengthened from one to four years.

According to a National Covenant, the President must be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of the House, a Shi'a Muslim. All other ministers' religions should parallel their level of representation in the National Assembly. The current President, Emile Lahoud, was elected in October 1998 for a six-year term. Veteran politician Selim El-Hoss was named President of the Council of Ministers on 2 December 1998.

The Constitution gives legislative power to the single-chamber, the 128-seat National Assembly. The Assembly is composed of an equal number of Christians and Muslims. Their terms of office are four years. The presidential term was six years, non-renewable, until 2004 when the assembly approved an increase allowing Emile Lahoud to stand for a further three years.

To consult the constitution (in French), please visit:



Diplomatic relations were established with Syria for the first time in October 2008. Syria and Lebanon stated that they would respect each other's sovereignty and independence. Relations between the two countries had been strained since the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, which many Lebanese blamed on Syria.



In February 2005 the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, was murdered. Several governments alleged Syrian involvement in the murder. His death sparked wide-spread anti-government and Syrian protests and led to several cabinet resignations including that of prime minister designate, Omar Karami. The council of ministers remained in office in a caretaking capacity. Mr Karami was reappointed prime minister on 10 March, but the opposition rejected his call to join his government. He resigned again in April and the moderate, pro-Syrian Najib Mikata was named his successor. Syria claimed to have withdrawn all its troops by the end of April. Legislative elections were held in June. The anti-Syrian alliance won control of parliament and nominated Hariri Ali Fouad Siniora as Prime Minister. In September 2005 four generals were charged in connection with the assassination of Rafik Hariri. In June 2006 the UN investigation into the murder was extended for another twelve months. Serge Brammertz, the UN investigator leading the probe, linked the assassination of Mr Hariri with 14 other attacks on anti-Syrian figures.

In February 2006 the Danish Embassy in Beirut was set on fire during protests against a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhmmad which had appeared in Danish newspapers.

On 12th July 2006, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group captured two Israeli soldiers, and demanded the release of prisoners in exchange. This was felt to be an act of solidarity with the Palestinian Hamas government, and a means of increasing the pressure on the Israeli government. The Israeli's, holding the Lebanese government responsible for the capture of the soldiers, imposed a sea blockade on Lebanon and launched jet strikes on the airport, a TV station and some forty other Hezbollah targets. Hezbollah responded with rocket fire at the Israeli town of Nahariya. Israel urged the Security Council to enforce resolutions calling for the Lebanese government to disarm militias. The US said that the support of Iran and Syria for the militias had contributed to the attack. Israeli attacks continued the following day, concentrating on the southern suburbs of Beirut, a known stronghold of Hezbollah militants. On the 14th July, the offices of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, were bombed, together with the airport, fuel depots, roads and bridges. The UN Security Council called for an end to Israel's operation. However, over the next few days, Israel extended its attacks to the north, bombing Tripoli and destroying the Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut. Hezbollah responded with rocket launches into Israel. The international community began evacuating the country, and people in Southern Lebanon began leaving their homes to escape the bombardment. Lebanese Prime Minister called for international help. The UN's Kofi Annan and PM Tony Blair suggested an international force to halt Hezbollah attacks, but Israel said it was too soon for such a move. The UN's emergency relief co-ordinator stated that the large scale destruction of southern Beirut and its indiscrimate nature made it a violation of humanitarian law. On Sunday 30th July 2006, 54 Lebanese, including 30 children, were killed when the Israeli's bombed the village of Qana. The Israeli's agreed to a 48 hour ceasefire to allow for an investigation and an evacuation by civilians. On the night of the 1st August, Israeli soldiers attacked the town of Baalbek, sixty miles inside the Lebanese border, capturing five Hezbollah militants and killing ten people. Hezbollah rockets were reported to have reached 70 km inside Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister said that there would be no ceasefire until an international force of peacekeepers were deployed in Southern Lebanon.
A ceasefire came into force on the 14th August 2006. By the beginning of October, some 5,000 UN forces were deployed in southern Lebanon, together with 10,000 Lebanese soldiers. Hezbollah continued to hold the two captured soldiers. During the conflict, around 1,109 Lebanese civilians died, together with 28 Lebanese soldiers. Figures for Hezbollah fatalies differ widely. 43 Israeli civilians were killed and 116 soldiers, according to official sources. Whilst the conflict was on-going, almost 25 per cent of the Lebanese population had to evacuate the area, and half a million Israelis moved away from the northern part of Israel.
The Shi'a and pro-Lahoud ministers resigned between 11 and 13 November 2006, after the failure of talks to form a national unity government, in which Hezbollah had been demanding more seats. In December, thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated in Beirut to demand the resignation of the government, and the following month Hezbollah-led opposition increased pressure on the government by calling general strike. In May 2007, the Lebanese army began the siege of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli following clashes with militants there; 40,000 people left before the army took over the camp in early September, and over 300 people were killed.
Antoine Ghanim, an anti-Syrian Lebanese MP, was killed in a car bomb attack in a suburb of Beirut on 19th September 2007, less than a week before MPs were due to elect a new President. Five other well-known anti-Syrian Lebanese people have been killed since the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. The Syrian government denied involvement in the killings. In December, Gen Francois al-Hajj, the army's head of operations, was assassinated. It was thought that Gen Hajj might have become army chief if Gen Michel Suleiman became president in an effort to resolve a lengthy political crisis.
On 15 January 2008, a bomb blast targetted a US embassy vehicle in a northern suburb of Beirut. Four people were killed, and several others injured. The attack came at a time of political crisis in Lebanon with rival pro-Syrian and pro-Western parties deadlocked over efforts to elect a president. The power struggle continued through the spring. On the 6th May, the government declared Hezbollah's fixed-line telephone network (which covers its strongholds of south and east Lebanon, and southern Beirut), illegal and a threat to state security. Hezbollah said that any attempt to dismantle it would be resisted. Fighting erupted when the telecommunications network was closed two days later. On the 7th May, opposition supporters held a one-day general strike calling for higher pay. The strikers set up barricades on main routes in Beirut, and there were explosions and gunfire. The unions demanded that the government triple the minimum monthly wage; prices have been rising in Lebanon, especially food and fuel, but the government feared big pay rises would lead to soaring inflation.
On the 9th May, Hezbollah militants seized most of western Beirut in a third day of fighting between opposition and government supporters, and at least 11 people were killed. Lebanon's governing coalition said it was a coup aimed at restoring the influence of Syria and Iran. The following day, Hezbollah agreed to withdraw its gunmen from Beirut after the Lebanese army revoked two key government measures, but vowed to continue civil disobedience until its demands were met. Over the week of fighting, 65 people were killed. At peace talks in Doha, Qatar, the rival Lebanese leaders agreed on steps to end the political deadlock; the Hezbollah-led opposition, backed by Syria and Iran, will have the power of veto in a new cabinet of national unity. Under the terms of the Doha Agreement, the Western-backed ruling majority has16 cabinet seats and chooses the prime minister; the Syrian-backed opposition has 11 cabinet seats and the power of veto, and three cabinet seats are nominated by the President. The use of weapons in internal conflicts is to be banned and opposition protest camps in Beirut are to be removed.
On the 24th May, following 19 failed attempts to elect a head of state, Lebanon's parliament elected army commander General Michel Suleiman as president. President Suleiman appointed the pro-Western incumbent Fouad Siniora to lead a new unity government, but the opposition were not happy with this choice and said that it was against the spirit of the Doha accord. A new cabinet was approved by parliament on 13th August.
Following talks in Paris in July 2008, Syria and Lebanon agreed to re-open embassies. The two countries had not had diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level since they became independent in the 1940s, and relations had worsened following the forced withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in mid-2005 after Rafik Hariri's assassination.
In July 2008, the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers, whose capture sparked the 2006 war with Lebanon, were returned to Israel, in exchange for five Hezbollah militants and the bodies of 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. A senior Hezbollah official said that the soldiers had been captured alive, but were injured in the cross-border attack and subsequently died. One of the returned militants was Samir Qantar, jailed in 1979 for killing a four-year-old Israeli girl, her father and a policeman.
On 29th September, seven people were killed in a car bomb attack on a military bus in Tripoli; it was the second such attack in two months. Around 30 people were injured. Lebanon's leaders said the attacks were an attempt to undermine efforts to reconcile various rival factions; pro-government Sunni fighters and pro-Syrian gunmen had recently agreed to a peace deal.
Diplomatic relations were formally established with Syria in October 2008. Syria's close ally, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, is now part of a national unity government and has the power of veto over its decisions.
Parliamentary elections took place on the 8th June 2009. The pro-Western coalition held on to its majority, winning 71 of the 128 seats. Hezbollah won 58 seats, and accepted the result. Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was nominated as premier after elections. After ten weeks of wrangling, he presented his proposed national unity cabinet unilaterally on the 7th September, having failed to agree the line-up with the opposition bloc. The leader of Hezbollah criticised the move, and Saad Hariri stepped aside, but was later re-appointed by the President. A unity government was finally appointed on 9 November.



The legislature is unicameral. The National Assembly is made up of 128 directly elected members who serve a four year term. Half the members are Christian and half Muslim.



National Assembly, (Majlis al-Nawab), Place de l'Etoile, Beirut. Tel: +961 (0)1 982140, URL:


 (as at November 2009)
Prime Minister: Saad al-Hariri
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence: Elias Murr
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates: Ali al-Shami
Minister of the Interior and Municipal Affairs: Ziad Baroud
Minister of Finance: Raya al-Haffar al-Hassan
Minister of Justice: Ibrahim Najjar
Minister of Industry: Ibrahim Dadayan
Minister of Education: Hassan Mneimneh
Minister of Telecommunications: Charbil Nahas
Minister of Economy and Trade: Muhammad Safadi
Minister of Public Works and Transport: Ghazi Hani Aridi
Minister of the Environment: Muhammad Rahal
Minister of Health: Muhmmed Jawad Khalifeh
Minister of Culture: Salim Wardah
Minister of Social Affairs: Salim al-Sayiqh
Minister of Youth and Sports: Ali Husayn Abdallah
Minister of Information: Tareq Mitri
Minister of Displaced Persons: Akram Shuhayib
Minister of Labour: Boutros Harb
Minister of Agriculture: Husayn Hasan
Minister of Energy and Water: Gibran Basil
Minister of Tourism: Fadi Abboud
Minister of State: Michel Pharoan
Minister of State for Administrative Development: Mohammed Fneish
Minister of State: Mona Afeish
Minister of State: Adnan al-Qassar
Minister of State: Yusuf Sa'adah
Minister of State:
Wael Abu Faour
Minster of State: Jean Ogassapian


Prime Minister's Office, Council of Ministers, Al-Kasr Al-Houkoumi, Al-Sanayeh, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 814777 / 862006

Ministry of Finance
, MOF Building, Riad Solh Square, Rue des Banques, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 642758/9 / 642720-1, fax: +961 1 642762 / 397789, e-mail:, URL:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigrants, Palais Bustors, Ashrafieh, Beirut.Tel: +961 1 334400, fax: +961 1 321845, e-mail:, URL:
Ministry of Interior and Municipal Affairs, Pres de l'ancienne Serial, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 754200, fax: +961 1 751622, fax: +961 1 751622, e-mail:, URL:
Ministry of Economy and Trade, The Ministry of Economy & Trade Bldg. Artois Street, Hamra, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 340503-5, fax: +961 1 354640, URL:
Ministry of Public Health, Al Zarif, Kireidieh Building, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 625701, fax: +961 1 615712, URL:
Ministry of National Defence, Al Yarzeh, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 429963, fax: +961 5 457920
Ministry of Water and Energy, Immeuble Electricité du Liban, Rue du Fleuve, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 444700-1 / 490007 / 425134 / 580647
Ministry of Environment, Independent Treasury for Allocation, 6th Floor, Al Adlieh, Beirut. Tel: +961 4 522222 / 525888, fax: +961 4 525444 / 418910, URL:
Ministry of Tourism, Al Hamra Street, Face de la Banque Centrale, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 344290 / 350901, fax: +961 1 738590 / 340945, e-mail:, URL:
Ministry of Industry, Sami Soleh Av., Facing Adlieh, Badaro, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 423338 / 427006 / 427046, fax: +961 1 427112, URL:
Ministry of Agriculture, Le Plant Vert Building, Beirut. Tel: +961 5 455613, fax: +961 5 455475, e-mail:, URL:
Ministry of Justice, Palais de la Justice, Rue de la Musée, Al Mathaf, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 422956, fax: +961 1 611142, e-mail:, URL:
Ministry of Information, Al Hamra Street, Face Banque Centrale, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 343459, fax: +961 1 744311, URL:
Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Al-Fayadieh, near Defence School, Beirut. Tel+ 961 5 456481 / 371640, fax: +961 5 458434, URL:
Ministry of Displaced People, Damour, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 366129 / 366110, Fax: +961 1 366213, URL: http://www.ministryofdisplaced/
Ministry of National Education, UNESCO, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 790537, fax: +961 1 790551, URL:
Ministry of Professional and Technical Affairs, Al-Mazraa Street, Freiha Building, Barbour Area, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 864689 / 371447-8 / 371408 / 867175
Ministry of Housing and Co-operatives, Bir Hassan, Raoucheh Shopping Centre, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 645940 / 200280-1 / 200277
Ministry of Employment, Ghobeiry-Mocharafieh, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 556811, fax: +961 1 556832
Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Sami-el-Solh Street, Beirut. Tel: +961 1 826001-2 / 867696-7, fax: +961 1 888310, e-mail:, URL:


In the September 2000 general election Prime Minister Selim El-Hoss was beaten by Rafik al-Hariri, who was previously prime minister in 1991. Rafik al-Hariri was a political opponent of the president, Emile Lahoud. In April 2003 Mr al-Hariri resigned with his council of ministers. He was re-appointed with a reshuffled cabinet later in the month but resigned again in October 2004. His murder in 2005 sparked widespread protests.

Parliamentary elections took place in May/June 2005, when an anti-Syrian alliance took control of parliament, choosing Hariri Ali Fouad Siniora as Prime Minister Designate. The presidential election was due in October 2004, but following changes to the constitution was rescheduled for September 2007. The President is elected by MPs rather than by popular vote. Over the autumn of 2007, the election was postponed three times in order to find a compromise candidate acceptable to both the Western-backed government and opposition groups supported by Syria. On 23rd November, the incumbent President's term expired, but the parliament still could not agree a successor. According to the Lebanese constitution, if the presidency becomes vacant, presidential powers are automatically transferred to the Prime Minister. However, President Lahoud vowed not to hand over power to Mr Siniora, an anti-Syrian, and instead appointed Gen Michel Suleiman, who sought to keep the military neutral. The election was postponed for the 15th time on the 29th of February 2008. On 25 May parliament elelcted General Michel Suleiman as president who then appointed Fouad Siniora to the post of prime minister.
The most recent parliamentary elections took place on 8th June 2009. The pro-Western coalition held on to its majority, winning 71 of the 128 seats. Hezbollah won 58 seats, and accepted the result. The main coalition parties are: Future (Sunni); Progressive Socialists (Druze); Lebanese Forces (Maronite); Phalange (Maronite).


Embassies of Lebanon

The Netherlands
Lebanon Embassy
Frederickstraat 2
2514 LK The Hague
Tel: +31-70-3658906
Fax: +31-70-3620779

United Kingsom
Lebanese Embassy
21 Kensington Palace Gardens
London W8 4QM
Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 7265
Fax: +44 (0)20 7243 1699

United Nations

Permanent Mission of Lebanon
866 UN Plaza
Suite 355-5460
New York, NY 10017

United States
Lebanese Embassy
2560, 28th Street
N.W. Washington DC 20008
Tel: +1 202 939 6320
Fax: +1 202 939 6324























Embassies in Lebanon

British Embassy
Embassies Complex
Army Street
Zkak Al-Blat
Serail Hill
PO Box 11-471
Tel: +961 4 417007 / 405070
Fax: +961 1 990420

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands Tower
Charles Malek Avenue
Opposite Centre Sofil
2073-0802 Achrafieh
PO Box 167190
Tel: +961-1-204663
Fax: +961-1-204664 / 00-961-1-339393

US Embassy
P.O. Box 70-840
Tel: +961 4 543600 / 542600
Fax: +961 544136



















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