Lebanon fails to elect a president for fourth time, as Aoun’s departure draws near

Lebanon’s parliament on Monday failed to elect a president for the fourth time, as the country headed towards a constitutional crisis, with just a week remaining before outgoing President Michel Aoun’s term expires on October 31.

No political block has been able to agree on a candidate to succeed Aoun, given parliament’s unprecedented fragmentation after May’s elections.

A financial crisis has plagued the nation for the last three years, and the government is already operating in a caretaker capacity. If the presidency becomes vacant, things will become even more worrisome.

The economy and political unrest have caused the currency to drop by more than 90 percent, spreading poverty, immobilizing the financial system, and locking depositors out of their money in the most disruptive crisis since the country’s civil war.

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

Nabih Berri, the Parliament speaker, scheduled the next session for Thursday, October 27.

Politicians are trying to reach an agreement on a new cabinet led by Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Najib Mikati to which presidential powers might be transferred, foreseeing another vacuum at the top.

Image Credit: Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS

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