Al-Husseini, ‘Godfather’ Of Taif Agreement Ending Lebanon’s Civil War, Dies


By Najia Houssari

Hussein Al-Husseini, Lebanon’s former parliament speaker and the “godfather” of the 1989 Taif Agreement that ended the country’s 15-year civil war, died on Wednesday due to illness. He was 86.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced that the presidential election scheduled for Thursday would be postponed by a week because of the death of his predecessor, who presided over parliament from 1984 to 1992.

Lebanon declared a three-day mourning period during which the Lebanese flags will be flown at half-mast over all institutions.

Al-Husseini’s funeral will take place on Thursday in his hometown, Shamstar, in the Beqaa Valley, in eastern Lebanon.

Al-Husseini was admitted to the hospital for flu and remained in intensive care, but he succumbed to his illness on Wednesday morning.

He is described as the godfather of the Taif Agreement, which brought Lebanon out of its civil war.

He was a constitutional and legal expert who took over the leadership of parliament in the shadow of the war.

Al-Husseini quit in August 2008, three years after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and in light of a political rift between Hezbollah, its allies and the sovereign forces.

He famously said: “Given the fact that the authority is capable if it wants, and the fact that it has so far not wanted, I announce my resignation from the membership of this parliament.”

Many documents regarding the deliberations and negotiations related to the Taif Agreement remained in Al-Husseini’s custody, and their full details have not been disclosed, despite all the political pressure put on the former speaker to release them.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati praised Al-Husseini for approving “the National Accord Document that ended the Lebanese war,” while former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he regretted the loss of Al-Husseini “in these sensitive and delicate circumstances, nationally, constitutionally and institutionally, and in light of the continued domination of weapons outside the authority of the state.”

Siniora noted “the great role of Al-Husseini in preserving and defending Lebanon, the homeland of Islamic-Christian coexistence.”

Former Prime Minister Tammam Salam praised Al-Husseini’s work “to preserve democracy…in the most difficult times and to move Lebanon from the furnace of war to its new constitution within the framework of the marathon sessions that were held in Taif under Arab sponsorship and with the participation of an inclusive parliament.”

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian said that Al-Husseini “made continuous efforts to preserve the unity of Lebanon, its people, institutions and civil peace, and played a key role in the signing of the Taif Agreement that emerged from the parliamentary meeting under his leadership in Saudi Arabia. Throughout his political life, he adhered to coexistence and was keen on the unity of (Lebanese Muslims and Christians), so that this country (could remain) a free, independent, Arab and sovereign (state) that cooperates with its Arab brothers.”

The Supreme Islamic Shia Council described Al-Husseini as “a man of moderation and high patriotic morality.”

The plenary session that was scheduled to be held on Thursday would have been the first this year, after the failure of MPs in 10 previous sessions in December to deliver a Maronite figure to the presidency due to divisions between Lebanon’s various political factions.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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