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Gemayel

Gemayel (zhĕmĪˈəl) [key], Maronite Christian family active in Lebanese politics; leaders of the Phalange party (1937–82), and later the Phalange militia. Pierre Gemayel, 1905–84, founded the right-wing Phalange movement in the early 1930s. In 1937 he became leader of the official Phalange party, representing Lebanon's large Maronite community. Pierre was elected to parliament in 1960 and was defeated twice (1964, 1970) when he ran for the presidency. He became head of the Phalange militia, which formed as a result of the civil war that erupted (1975) among the many religious and ethnic groups in Lebanon. Bashir Gemayel, 1947–82, Pierre's younger son, was the militant leader of Phalange forces in the late 1970s, and he reinforced Maronite power. In 1980 he assumed control of the Phalange party. Under controversial circumstances, Bashir was elected in Sept., 1982, as Lebanon's next president; less than two weeks later he was assassinated. He was replaced by his older brother, Amin Gemayel, 1942–, a lawyer, businessman, and member of the Lebanese parliament from 1970. Far less radical than the other members of his family and with no real authority, Amin provided weak leadership until his presidential term ended in 1988. With parliament deadlocked over his successor, Gemayel appointed Gen. Michel Aoun interim president, an act that led to two years of warfare and political instability. Subsequently living in exile in France, Gemayel returned to Lebanon in 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for parliament in 2007, seeking to win the seat held by his son Pierre before he was assassinated (2006).

See also Lebanon.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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