Camille Nemr Chamoun was born
in Dayr al-Qaman, Lebanon, on April 3, 1900. He
was educated in Beirut and subsequently became a
lawyer. He was first elected to Parliament in
1929, when Lebanon was a French mandate, and was
re-elected in 1934, 1937. Lebanon became an
indpendent country in 1943, and Chamoun was
elected to the first independent Parliament that
same year. He also served as Lebanon's Ambassador
to the United Kingdom (1944-1946) and then to the
United Nations, and was re-elected to Parliament
Chamoun expected to
succeed Bishara al-Khuri as President of Lebanon,
but that expectation was shattered when Khuri's
term was renewed by Parliament in 1948. He began
organizing parliamentary opposition soon after,
and by the summer of 1952 had won extensive
support, both in Parliament and among the general
population. Khuri was forced to resign during a
general strike in September 1952, and Chamoun was
elected his successor.
As President, Chamoun reorganized governmental
departments in an attempt to realize a more
efficient administration. Lebanese politics
remained geared to serving special interests,
however, and Chamoun's reforms bore little fruit.
Chamoun faced a crisis in 1956 when Muslim
leaders demanded that he break relations with
Britain and France, which had just attacked Egypt
over rights to the Suez Canal. Chamoun not only
refused to do this but also named a pro-Western
Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In May 1958, armed rebellion broke out in
Beirut, supported mostly by Muslim elements. The
Lebanese army commander, Fuad Chehab refused to
quell the rebellion with military force, but did
act to prevent its spread to other areas. After a
coup d'etat in Itaq on July 14 Chamoun's position
became so desperate that he asked for U.S.
intervention, and the landing of U.S. Marines
near Beirut on July 15 ended the rebellion.
Chamoun did not seek another term as President,
and Parliament elected Chehab as his successor on
July 31. Chamoun surrendered his office to Chehab
on September 23.
After a brief retirement from politics,
Chamoun founded the National Liberal Party. He
was returned to Parliament in 1960, but a change
in voting districts led to his defeat for
re-election in 1964. He was returned again in
1968, and re-elected in 1972. When civil war
erupted in 1975, he became involved in defending
Lebanon against Syrian intervention and held a
succession of ministerial posts, and was serving
as Minister of Finance when he died on August 7,
1987, in Beirut.
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