Chehab, Fuad (Lebanon)
Fuad Chehab, commander of the Lebanese army, succeeded Camille Chamoun as state president in Sept. 1958 in the wake of widespread sectarian conflict between Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim communities. His term in office ended in 1964 and he was widely credited with restoring political stability and promoting economic and infrastructure development.
Chehab was born in 1902 in Ghazir. Pursuing a military career, he served with French mandatory forces in Syria after World War I and by 1945 was commander of the Lebanese army.
Having adopted a non-partisan stance as military commander during the internal unrest at the end of Chamoun’s term, Chehab enjoyed support from Christian and Muslim factions alike. He was elected by the National Assembly at the end of July 1958 and assumed presidential office on 23 Sept. While observing the terms of the 1943 national pact determining the allocation of political power between the main religious communities, he instituted some electoral reform and increased the membership of the National Assembly to encourage wider direct representation. In foreign affairs he effected the prompt withdrawal of the US troops deployed towards the end of his predecessor’s presidency. Thereafter he followed a neutral foreign policy, with the aim of maintaining good relations with Arab as well as Western nations. Limited opposition to his regime was reflected in a coup attempt in 1961 by an extremist party advocating the creation of a greater Syria of several Arab states. Chehab rejected appeals that he should run for the presidency again, despite a parliamentary proposal for a constitutional amendment allowing him a second term. He left office in Sept. 1964 and died on 25 April 1973 in Beirut.