Still No President In Lebanon

Lebanese lawmakers have failed for the tenth time to elect a new president. Candidate Michel Moawad, backed by the Lebanese Forces Party, received 38 votes from 109 lawmakers (in a 128-member parliament), which are not enough to win the first round.

A candidate needs two-thirds of the votes, or 86 lawmakers, to make it through the first stage.

Then, in subsequent rounds, it needs an absolute majority.

The parliament is split between pro-Hezbollah legislators and its opponents, neither of whom has a clear majority. Moawad, who is seen as being close to the United States, has received the support of anti-Hezbollah MPs, which includes the Christian party Lebanese Forces, the largest party in the parliament.

Former President Michel Aoun completed a six-year term without lawmakers agreeing on a successor. The country has also been without a fully functioning government since May, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his cabinet having limited powers in their current caretaker status.

However, the first time the country was without a president since its 1975-1990 civil war. Then in 2016, Aoun was elected after two and a half years of vacuum and 46 electoral sessions.

More recently, on Saturday 24, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai denounced the existence of “a plot” against the country, writes News360.

All political indications confirm the existence of a plot against Lebanon aimed at causing a presidential vacuum, accompanied by a constitutional vacuum, which is increasingly complicating the election of a president”, he said during his traditional Christmas message.

Thus, he stated that “some political groups blocked the formation of a government before the end of Aoun’s mandate even though they knew that the Executive had resigned and was in office, which would create problems in specifying its role”, as reported by the Lebanese news portal Naharnet.

We should expect new sessions to try and elect a functioning president in early 2023.

The political blockade explained

As we reported back in May, the political scenario is very divided and remains so.

Of all the political forces, Hezbollah is a major political and military force, but without a majority. It is backed by Iran and described by its supporters as a bulwark against its enemy Israel.

By its detractors, it is seen as a state within a state whose continued existence prevents any kind of democratic change in Lebanon. It is considered a “terrorist” organization by many Western countries, it is the only organization to have kept its weapons following the 1975-1990 civil war.

The last elections held in May came after a nationwide uprising in 2019 against a political elite seen as corrupt and ineffective. The mass protests were sparked by the start of one of the worst economic depressions the world has seen in more than 150 years. Now, there have been severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines, the BBC describes.

According to the World Bank, is one of the worst the world has seen in modern times. This has resulted in more than 70% of the population living below the poverty line and a banking system paralyzed since October 2019.

To this, the Covid pandemic and the explosion at Beirut’s port in 2020 that killed more than 200 people and the investigation which has been stalled repeatedly, have added to the woes.

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