Lebanese lawmakers fail to elect new president for 9th time

Beirut, Dec 8 (EFE).- Lebanon’s parliament on Thursday failed to elect a new head of state at the ninth attempt, amid a deepening rift between two of the country’s main political parties.

In the latest session that was attended by 105 out of 128 lawmakers, no candidate secured enough votes for a majority.

Thirty-nine MPs cast blank votes while many others backed Hezbollah opponent Michel Moawad, son of the former Lebanese president Rene Moawad, who once again fell well short of the 65 votes necessary to become president.

Divisions between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its Christian ally the Free Patriotic Movement, led by former president Michel Aoun, have been growing amid the political deadlock and crippling economic crisis in the country.

Shortly before his term ended on October 31, Aoun tried to dissolve the government that had been in office for almost six months to prevent it from assuming power during the presidential vacuum.

But parliament supported caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati, who promised not to call for a cabinet meeting except in extreme emergencies.

On Monday, Mikati convened a meeting for the first time in six months to discuss urgent points in the health and telecommunication sectors, a decision that angered the Free Patriotic Movement party.

Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement lost their majority in parliament after May’s elections, but they still have a significant number of seats, so its decision to vote blank has so far prevented the election of a president.

The parliament will meet again on Thursday for its 10th presidential voting session for another attempt at ending the nation’s months-long political impasse.EFE


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