Lebanon fails to elect president for fourth time as Aoun’s departure looms

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BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament failed to elect a president for the fourth time on Monday, with only a week till outgoing President Michel Aoun’s term expires and fears of a constitutional crisis getting louder.

With parliament more divided than ever after the May elections, political parties have been unable to agree on a candidate to succeed Aoun.

The presidency has been empty multiple times during the 1975-1990 civil war, but a vacancy now would be particularly concerning. The administration is already in caretaker mode, and the country is plunging deeper into a three-year-old financial crisis.
In the most destabilizing crisis since the country’s civil war, economic and political turbulence has sunk the currency by more than 90%, spread destitution, immobilized the financial system, and frozen depositors out of their investments.

On Monday, votes in parliament were mostly split between independent MP Michel Mouawad, newly nominated scholar Issam Khalife, blank ballots, and some votes for political slogans.

Nabih Berri, the Speaker of Parliament, has scheduled the next session for Thursday, October 27.

Anticipating another power vacuum, MPs have increased attempts to form a new cabinet led by Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Najib Mikati — who is currently serving in a caretaker capacity — to which presidential powers may be delegated.


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