• Short Summary

    Lebanon is an Arab Republic situated on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean...bounded to the?

  • Description

    Beirut streets scenes; Helou at meeting; Helou leaves for Paris; trouble and demonstrations in Beirut; Helou and Atassi.

    Initials P/EML/MH

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Lebanon is an Arab Republic situated on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean...bounded to the north and east by Syria and to the South by Israel. The state came into existence in 1920 when France, then occupying Syria and Lebanon, enlarged the former autonomous Opttoman region of Mount Lebanon. The Free French declared Lebanon independent in 1941 and French troops finally withdrew in 1946.

    Since independence, Lebanon has enjoyed growing prosperity as a go-between linking the developing Middle East with the western world.

    Beirut is a free port and there is a large transit trade with Iraq, Jordan and other Middle East states.

    Lebanon is a Republic with a President who is the Head of State and of the executive and a single chamber legislature and council of ministers.

    The President is elected by a two-thirds majority of the chamber of deputies for a period of six years. He may not be immediately re-elected.

    The incumbent President is Charles Helou, a 57 year-old, journalist, diplomat, lawyer and Cabinet Minister. He was elected President in 1964 after a fierce and sometimes bitter campaign, in 1964.

    Helou took over the presidency from General Fuad Chehab who had taken over the office in 1958 after a near civil was had been quelled by United States marines.

    Mr. Helou, the country's fourth President since independence, was elected by an almost unanimous vote. He is an exponent of "pro-Western neutralism" and is known to oppose his country's involvement in inter-Arab conflicts, unions or federations.

    His opponents have described him as a man reluctant to make decisions, but abstinent to change.

    Prior to his election, Mr. Helou was Minister of Education. He served as Lebanon's first ambassador to the Vatican from 1946 to 1949.

    Before his election, Lebanon had teetered on the edge of serious political unrest for about three months after the outgoing President Chehab had refused to allow an amendment to the country's constitution allowing him to stay in office for a further six year period.

    Lebanon -- half Christian, half Moslem -- has an unwritten law that the President must be a Maronite (Syrian sect) Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Moslem and the Speaker of the House a Shia Moslem.

    After his election, in 1964, President Helou strode to the rostrum and declared he would follow in the path of General Chehab, whom he described as a "great President".

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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