Suleiman Frangieh

Suleiman Frangieh

Politics of Lebanon

Suleiman Kabalan Frangieh, last name also spelled "Frangié," "Franjieh," or "Franjiyeh," (15 June 1910 - 23 July 1992) (Arabic: سليمان فرنجية), was President of Lebanon from 1970 to 1976. His presidency saw the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War, which raged from 1975 to 1990, as well as the start of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon, which continued until 2005.

The presidential election of 1970

In the closest and possibly most controversial presidential election in Lebanese history, the National Assembly elected Frangieh to the Presidency of the Republic on August 17 1970. He owed his upset victory over Elias Sarkis to a last minute change of mind by Kamal Jumblatt, whose supporters in the National Assembly switched their votes to Frangieh. Posing as a consensus candidate, Frangieh drew support from both the right and the left and from all religious factions; there was little that united his supporters ideologically except his promise to maintain the semi-feudal system which concentrated power in the hands of local clan leaders known as "Zaiyms," a system that many "Zaiyms" felt was being undermined by reforms enacted by the administrations of Presidents of Fuad Chehab (1958-1964) and Charles Helou (1964-1970), reforms that Sarkis had pledged to continue.

There were three rounds of elections that year:
Round 1 - 99 Deputies, 5 candidates - no majority
Round 2 - 99 Deputies, 2 candidates - 50 votes each (1 fake vote found), round was negated.
Round 3 - 99 Deputies, 2 candidates, Kamal Jumblatt assigns one of his deputies to vote for Frangieh. Suleiman Frangieh becomes President legally.

The version of the story told before is purely factual. The events listed above were as per the testimony of the late Kamal Joumblatt.

The civil war years

When the Lebanese Civil War began, Frangieh maintained a militia, the Marada Brigade, under the command of his son Tony. some watchers who knew very well the Lebanese situation say that since the day frangiye was elected president Lebanon was condemned to have the same destiny of zgharta conflicts in 1957 ,which frangiyeh was one of the most responsible about it, He initially participated in the Lebanese Front, a right-wing, mainly Christian, coalition of politicians and militia leaders, but in early 1978 he broke with them over their tacit collaboration with Israel and his own pro-Syrian leanings. In June 1978, Tony, together with his wife and infant daughter, was assassinated by militiamen from the Phalangist militia. Frangieh vowed revenge. Bashir Gemayel was killed himself in 1982 allegedly by Habib Shartouni.

Frangieh remained an ally of Syria. He attempted to make a comeback in 1988, but the National Assembly, which had been expected to elect him, failed to achieve a quorum owing to a boycott by some Christian parliamentarians enforced by the Lebanese Forces militia. He died on 23 July 1992, two years after the civil war ended.

Personal life

The scion of one of the leading Maronite families of Zgharta, near Tripoli, Frangieh was the second son of Kabalan Suleiman Frangieh, who was to become a member of Parliament and his wife Lamia Raffoul. His grandfather, Kabalan Frangieh, had been a District Governor. Frangieh had five children with his Egyptian-born wife, Iris Handaly. Suleiman Frangieh took over the Parlimnent seat in 1958 from his brother Hamid, after his brother Hamid became ill. His grandson, Suleiman Frangieh, Jr. was Minister of the Interior from 2004 to 2005.

See also

*List of Presidents of Lebanon


Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation


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