Al Jazeera World

The soldier who became president of Lebanon: Fouad Chehab

Fouad Chehab, who died 50 years ago, was an army chief-turned-president and the architect of modern Lebanon.

Fouad Chehab was commander of the Lebanese army after the country gained independence from France.

When Lebanon stood on the brink of civil war in 1958, a group of politicians asked him to take over the presidency. He accepted but never intended to see out his term in office.

In the end, he stayed on – and by aiming to rise above Lebanon’s sectarian divisions, he managed to build many of the institutions that took the country into the 21st century.

This is the story of a soldier who may not have set out to lead his country, but who effectively founded the modern Lebanese state.