Solange Gemayel

Solange Gemayel (born Solange Tutunji) is a political figure and former First Lady of Lebanon. The widow of former President-elect Bachir Gemayel (1947-1982), who was assassinated days before he was due to take office in 1982, she helped to found the Bachir Gemayel Foundation, to keep his legacy alive.

An Armenian Christian, Solange Tutunji married Bachir Gemayel in 1977. Their first daughter, Maya, was born the following year. She was tragically killed in 1980, by a car bomb intended for her father. A second daughter, Youmna, was born in 1980, and a son, Nadim, in 1982, only months before his father's assassination. Solange Gemayel has brought up her two surviving children to carry on their late father's legacy, and Nadim, who turned 21 in 2003, has indicated his intention to follow in the footsteps of his father and mother by participating in the political process.

Solange Gemayel strongly opposed the Syrian military presence in Lebanon, and was an enemy of the Syrian-backed regime which took power in 1990. She is strongly pro-Western, and in 2003 she rattled the political establishment by publicly supporting U.S. President George W. Bush in his decision to attack Iraq and depose the government of Saddam Hussein. Hosting a formal dinner at her home in August 2003, she praised what she called America's "historic step" to "establish democracy, fight terrorism, make peace and give the people a taste of freedom." She also joined her son, Nadim, in endorsing Hikmat Deeb of the Free Patriotic Movement in an important byelection. This put her (and her son) at odds with her brother-in-law, former President Amine Gemayel, who endorsed the more moderate Henry Hélou. Hélou won, but by a much smaller margin than had been expected.

She was an outspoken critic at several major demonstrations against the Syrian presence and the Syrian-backed government, in the wake of the 14 February assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hariri's son, Saad Hariri announced on 16 May 2005 that Gemayel would contest the election as a member of a multiconfessional electoral ticket he had compiled. On 30 May, Gemayel was elected to represent the same Beirut constituency once held for many years by her late father-in-law, Pierre Gemayel.

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