WS: PROSPECTS OF NEW POLITICAL-RELIGIOUS TENSIONS IN LEBANON

Created: 5/22/1964

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Asia-Africa

OF NEW POLITICAL-RELIGIOUS TENSIONS IN LEBANON

President Shlhab has served notice that he will not stand for re-election this year. His decision, if beto it, will result in an open race for the presidency which could once again embroil the country in astruggle like that which brought on the civil war six years ago.

By an unwritten agreement designed to prevent religious strife, Lebanese presidents are Uaronite Christians, the prime ministers are Sunni Muslims, and smaller religious groups hold other top state offices. Prime Minister Uwayni and aboutembers of parliament had urged Sblhab toecond term, as they have no other readily acceptable candidate. The new parliament which muat elect the next president beforeugust, would have to amend Lebanon's constitution to pornit

Shlhab to succeed himself or to extend his present term.

Egypt's Interest in the situation further complicates the picture. Nasir la satisfied with Shlhab and worried that anti-Nasir elements may win the

Muslim antagonism. FormerChamoun, Maroaite Patriarch Maushi, and several otherChristians oppose Shihab's re-election. They claim the government exerted influence to defeat Chamoun and other prominent anti-Shihab Christians in the recent parliamentary elections.

ayINTELLIGENCE WEEKLY 11

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