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Lebanon facing new uncertainty as the presidency is vacated

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The presidency of Lebanon's Michel Aoun is coming to a close and politicians are anticipating a possible power vacuum if a decision cannot be made soon to fill the office.

The parliament voted on October 24, but with only a week left to Aoun's term, some ballots were left blank. Independent MP Michel Mouawad and scholar Issam Khalife both received votes. The next vote was set for October 27 by Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati is currently serving as caretaker, and politicians have suggested presidential powers could pass to Mikati and a new cabinet should a president not be agreed upon, who must be a Maronite Christian according to the sectarian system.

Aoun, a former military general, has served as President of Lebanon since October 31, 2016. Experts are warning of a constitutional crisis if his replacement is not agreed upon. Unity and agreement are hard to come by in Lebanon in the best of times, and now Lebanon faces multiple crises after May's elections which saw newcomers elected to parliamentary seats in an effort by the voters to dissemble the ruling political elite, who they blame for the three-year-old financial meltdown.

Michel Aoun and his legacy

In 1984, Aoun became the youngest Commander of the Army, and four years later was appointed as head of a military cabinet. He survived an assassination attempt on October 12, 1990.

Aoun then fled to the French Embassy in Beirut and was later granted asylum in France where he lived for 15 years. Aoun founded the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) while in exile.

On February 14, 2005, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in Beirut, and the Syrian Arab Army later withdrew from Lebanon and Aoun returned to Beirut on May 7. Aoun was elected to Parliament with his FPM snatching 21 out of 128 seats in parliamentary elections, which represented the largest Christian bloc.

In 2016, Aoun was endorsed by Hezbollah and other parties to become the thirteenth President of Lebanon. He promised to defend Christian rights after the community had lost some of its political power at the end of the 15-year civil war which ended in 1990.

Aoun chose to work with Hezbollah, the resistance movement in Lebanon. Aoun's military background made him aware that the Lebanese Army was not capable of defending the southern border with Israel, but Hezbollah was.

The south of Lebanon suffered under a brutal Israeli military occupation for 20 years, and the only way to prevent a repeat was a strong defense.

Lebanon's economic meltdown

In 2019, mass protests broke out across Lebanon demanding the ruling political elite, many of whom were family dynasties and warlords left over from the civil war, get out. The popular uprising was demanding a change to the same faces who they equated with corruption and sectarianism.

While the country was suffering under bank closures and hyperinflation for a devalued currency, the Beirut port exploded in 2020 in the world's biggest non-nuclear explosion, killing over 200 people and parts of the capital destroyed.

The currency sunk by 90%, making the middle class the new poor, and leaving the poor destitute. The banks remain paralyzed with some depositors holding up the banks just to get their funds released.

The US meddling in Lebanon

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Steven Sahiounie Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

I am Steven Sahiounie Syrian American award winning journalist and political commentator Living in Lattakia Syria and I am the chief editor of MidEastDiscours I have been reporting about Syria and the Middle East for about 8 years

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