Ta?if Accord

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Agreement among factions that led to the end of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90). In May 1989 the Arab League sponsored a tripartite commission composed of the heads of state of Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Morocco to resolve the civil war in Lebanon, which had lasted almost fifteen years. In July the commission made several proposals that were rejected out of hand by Syria. In September the commission asked representatives of the various factions remaining in the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies (last elected in 1972) to meet in Taʾif, Saudi Arabia, to discuss its proposals. After a month of negotiations, a compromise agreement, the National Unity Charter, known as the Taʾif Accord, was signed on 22 October.

The accord stipulated reducing the powers of the Lebanese president in favor of the prime minister, who would become executive head of government, and the Council of Ministers (cabinet); and increasing the number of seats in Parliament (to 128 from 99) with equal proportions of Christians and Muslims. (Seats had previously been apportioned based on the fiction of a Christian majority. Lebanon is now approximately 70–75 percent Muslim.) The presidency would still be reserved for a Christian and the prime ministry for a Sunni Muslim. The sectarian basis of Lebanese politics was left unchanged. The accord also provided for disarming the sectarian militias as soon as a new president was elected and ratified the presence in Lebanon of the Syrian Army, whose 1976 mandate from the Arab League had expired in 1982, after several extensions.

The text of the accord, in spite of the opposition of the so-called "interim president," General Michel Aoun, was ratified by the Lebanese Parliament on 5 November 1989. On 4 November 1989 the parliament elected Rene Muawad president; he was assassinated on 22 November. On 24 November Ilyas al-Hrawi was elected, and a new national unity government was installed in December 1989. In August 1990 the parliament amended the constitution according to the provisions of the accord. The Taʾif Accord allowed the Lebanese to have a duly elected president again, after a gap of more than a year, and to begin to isolate the factions that wished to prolong the war. Aoun's forces continued to oppose the settlement until October, when, during the crisis leading to the Gulf War of 1991, the Syrian army defeated them. More than 25,000 Syrian troops remain in Lebanon, and no Lebanese government initiative can take place without Syrian approval.

SEE ALSO Aoun, Michel;Arab League;Gulf War (1991).