Lebanon / Politics /
Arabic: sharl 'al-haluw
(1912-2001) Lebanese politician and president 1964-70.
Helou was not a strong politician, and had little direct support on his own. He was chosen president as a compromise candidate between factions still upset from the Civil War of 1958. The reform work that former president, Fuad Chehab, had started, slowed down under Helou.
In some fields, the weakness of Helou was his strongest side: He was able to cooperate both with Christian as well as Muslim groups. He also kept Lebanon out of the destructive Six-Day War.
But he was not able to curb the influx of Palestinian guerillas, and in his time Lebanon saw the first serious attacks by Israel. In many ways, Helou's term of office precipitated the Lebanese Civil War that started 5 years after the end of his presidency.
1912 December 25: Born in Beirut into a middle-class Maronite Christian family.
1930's: Studies at the French faculty of law in Beirut.
1932: Founds the newspaper L'Eclair du Nord in Aleppo.
1935: Founds the newspaper Le Jour in Beirut.
1947: Becomes Lebanese ambassador to Vatican State.
1954: Becomes Minister of Justice and Health.
1955: Steps down as minister.
1964: Becomes Minister of Education.
August 18: Helou is elected president after Fuad Chehab. One reason for his election, was that he was one of few actual candidates that hadn't been active in the Civil War of 1958. He also got the support of Chehab. Helou declares that he will continue the political line of Chehab. As he becomes president, he declares that he will not allow any bases of the newly established PLO in Lebanon.
September 25: Hussein Oweini forms government.
1965 July 20: Hussein Oweini resigns as prime minister.
July 26: Rashid Karami forms a new government.
December: Karami and Helou cooperate in a campaign of an administrative and judicial reform programme, intent upon ridding Lebanon of the many officials that were involved in corruption.
1966 March: Much in opposition to Helou's and Karami's programme, protests come from the government itself. It ends with Karami offering his resignation.
1968: The Christians, with Helou, try to stop the stationing of Palestinian guerilla, while Muslim leaders favour this.
1969: Helou has to accept the PLO takeoer of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
1970 August: As his presidency comes to an end, Helou steps down. He is succeeded by Suleiman Franjieh.
2001 January 7: Dies of an heart attack.