On August 8, 1987 a great Lebanese President died away. He was 87.
Camille Nemr Chamoun was elected President of Lebanon from 1952 to 1958, and one of the country’s main Christian leaders during most of the Lebanese Civil War. Lawyer by profession, Chamoun was first elected to the Lebanese parliament in 1934. One of the fathers of Lebanon Independence, he was arrested on November 11, 1943 and was imprisoned by the French authorities in Rashaïa castle, where he was held for eleven days, along with Bishara el-Khoury and Riad el-Solh, who were to become the first President and Prime Minister, respectively, of the new republic. Massive public protests led to their release on 22 November which is now commemorated as Independence Day. He served as ambassador to the UK and the UN in the late 40’s. Chamoun served as president of Lebanon in 1952–58.
When President Bishara el-Khoury was forced to resign amid corruption allegations in 1952, Chamoun was elected to replace him. Near the end of his term, Pan-Arabists and other groups backed by Gamal Abdle Nasser of Egypt, with considerable support in Lebanon’s Muslim Sunni community, attempted to overthrow Chamoun’s government in June 1958 when Chamoun tried to seek another term as president. At the time Chamoun appealed to the United States for help under the new Eisenhower Doctrine, and the American marines landed in Beirut. The revolt was squashed, but to appease Muslim anger, Gen. Fouad Chehab whom, though Christian, enjoyed considerable popularity in the Muslim community, was elected to succeed Chamoun.
On his retirement from the presidency, Chamoun founded the National Liberal Party (al-Wataniyoun al-Ahrar) NLP. As the leader of this party, Chamoun was elected to the National Assembly again in 1960, much to the consternation of President Chehab.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Chamoun served in a variety of portfolios in the Cabinet. This was during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), in which Chamoun and the NLP participated through the party’s militia, the “Tigers” (in Arabic, nimr means tiger). He servived several assassination attempts.
In the early stages of the war, he helped found the Lebanese Front, a coalition of mostly Christian politicians and parties, Chamoun was chairman of the Front in 1976–1978. In 1980, all christian military factions were joined in one group which was called the Lebanese Forces.
Chamoun was one of the rare man of state. He is a giant in politics comparing to the politicians we have today.
“We are not a nation that likes war. We just want everybody to be on his own side.” Camille Chamoun.
Camille Chamoun, people of your caliber are really missed today.