Former Lebanon president Hrawi dies

Elias Hrawi, a former president of Lebanon, who oversaw his country's emergence from 1975-1990 civil war, has died of cancer in a Beirut hospital, hospital officials said. He was 80.

    Hrawi is the longest serving president of Lebanon

    The presidency has declared a three-day mourning beginning on Friday.

     

    Hrawi served as president from 1989 to 1998 - 

    when Syria's influence was at its peak -

    before he was succeeded by Emile Lahoud, the current head of state.

     

    A Maronite Christian from the eastern city of Zahla, he ruled for nine years becoming the longest ruling Lebanese president.
    Hrawi was an obscure MP before rising to the presidency in 1989 following the assassination of his predecessor Rene Moawad  after just two weeks in power.

     

    Jacques Chirac, the French president, said he had learned of Hrawi's death "with great emotion and sadness". In a handwritten letter to Mouna Jamal, the former president's widow, Chirac said: "I salute the memory of a man who, after so many years of  suffering, following the assassination of president Rene Moawad,  devoted himself to the difficult task of bringing his country from  war to peace."

     

    Hrawi came to office following the 1989 al-Taef accord that put an end to Lebanon's civil war.

     

    Hrawi oversaw the rebuilding of state institutions from the ruins of civil war and the launch of a multi-billion-dollar reconstruction process that was later entrusted to Rafiq Hariri, the country's five-time premier, who himself was killed in a bomb blast in February 2005.


    Critics


    Hrawi authorised Syrian military intervention to drive Aoun out of the presidential palace. Aoun lost the battle and took refuge in the French embassy.

     

    Hrawi's term also saw the disarmament of most of Lebanon's war-time militias. 

    yria intervened on the political front in 1995 to extend Hrawi's term by three years.

     

    Hrawi was accused by critics of putting Lebanon under the total control of powerful Syria. It was under his tenure that on May 22, 1991 Lebanon and Syria signed a treaty of fraternity, cooperation and coordination.

     

    Syria's almost three-decade-long military domination of Lebanon only drew to a close in April 2005, two months after the assassination of Hariri in which a UN investigation has implicated  Syria.

     

    Hrawi had five children from two marriages.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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