On Thursday, the Lebanese parliament failed to elect a president for the ninth time, despite the post having been vacant for more than a month due to deep political divisions in the midst of an accelerating economic collapse that the authorities are unable to contain.
39 MPs voted by white paper, and Representative Michel Moawad, who is backed by the Lebanese Forces led by Sameer Jagea and other blocs, including that of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, received 39 votes. Major blocs, including Hezbollah, the most prominent political and military force, are opposing Moawad, who is known for being close to the Americans, and describe him as a “difficult” candidate, calling for prior approval of the candidate before he goes to parliament. elect him. Former minister and deputy Suleiman Frangieh is considered Hezbollah’s ideal candidate, according to sources close to the party. However, despite his alliance with Hezbollah, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, representative Gebran Bassil, son-in-law of former President Michel Aoun and in turn aspirant for the presidency, has declared his opposition to Frangieh.
In political circles, the name of army commander Joseph Aoun, whose position does not allow him to hold political office, is increasingly discussed as the president of the settlement, although his election requires an amendment to the constitution, since he is a first-class employee who cannot be elected. up to two years after their resignation or retirement. The system of settlements and quotas between political and sectarian forces usually delays important decisions, including the formation of a government or the election of a president. The failure of parliament to elect a president so far indicates that the electoral process could take a long time in a country where constitutional deadlines are rarely respected. “Holding a meeting every week won’t change anything,” Alain Aoun, a spokesman for the Free Patriotic Movement, told local channels ahead of the meeting.
During the meeting, the deputies invalidated the ballot papers, one of which had the name of South African leader Nelson Mandela written on it. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who called for dialogue to agree on a candidate’s name, set the date for the new session next Thursday. No political party has a parliamentary majority to impose its candidate.
The presidential vacuum coincides with the existence of an interim government led by Najib Mikati that cannot make the necessary decisions, and at a time when Lebanon has been experiencing an economic collapse since 2019, which the World Bank has rated as one of the worst in the world since then. 1850. A government meeting to discuss urgent matters three days ago caused tension between Hezbollah, whose ministers were present at the meeting, and the Free Patriotic Movement, which opposes government meetings and its assumption of presidential powers in a vacuum.