Time to retire, at 109

[Published on 24 May, 1998]

When Lebanon kicks off its first municipal elections in 35 years today,
no one will be more relieved than Sheikh Hussein al-Qadi.

At the age of 109, the head of the municipal council in this
Druze village is ready for retirement.

"I submitted my resignation 10 years ago but officials rejected it,
saying I was still capable of serving my country," he said.

The Druze sheikh has been head of Ain Aata, a village of 1,500 people
in southern Lebanon, since the last polls 35 years ago.

He keeps busy trying to resolve day-to-day problems. "For the past 35 years,
the demands have been the same: water, electricity and roads," he said.

Born in 1889, he was first elected to the mayoral council in 1932. He took
over as head of the municipality in 1963, for what was to be a six-year term.

But elections kept being put off, because of political disputes and the
country's 15-year civil war.

Asked why he is not standing again in the polls, he replied: "I think
I have served my village enough after 35 years. It is not because I fear