Since independence in 1943, Lebanon’s national development and political governance have been profoundly affected by the interlocking influences of its sectarian system, geopolitics and regional conflicts and, since 1975, by the impact of a long lasting civil war (1975-90).1 The political system that emerged on the eve of independence was based on a power-sharing formula among the country’s major religious communities that, inter alia, applied to cabinet posts and parliamentary representation. Commonly described as ‘consociational democracy’, it was intended to regulate political life in a country split roughly equally between Christian and Muslim communities, and where religious identification and loyalties were still strong.2