Lebanese president leaves office amid political uncertainty

Beirut, Oct 30 (EFE).- The outgoing Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, is set to vacate the Baabda presidential palace at noon on Sunday, barely 24 hours before his term officially ends, while the parliament has been unable to elect a successor so far and the country is set to be run by an interim government.

Aoun is set to participate in a farewell ceremony at the gates of the presidential palace in suburban Beirut, where he will be given a salute by the Republican Guard and give a last speech after being bid adieu by high ranking officials and citizens.

Subsequently, he will leave the Baabda palace in the presidential car, a day ahead of the legal expiry of his term, six years after assuming the presidency on Oct. 31, 2016.

The Lebanese parliament has met four times over the last two months to try and vote-in a new president, but on three occasions no candidate managed to get sufficient support, while once the session had to be postponed due to the lack of quorum.

No political alliance has been able to secure parliamentary majority after the elections held in May, complicating government formation in the polarized political spectrum of Lebanon, governed by a complex sectarian power-sharing system.

Over the past three decades, there have been several periods of the presidency lying vacant, with the last one lasting almost two years.

Aoun’s election in 2016 ended the last vacuum, after his opponents agreed to his appointment in exchange for concessions to the government, a negotiation strategy likely to be applied again by different groups to try and come out of the impending stalemate.

Since June, Lebanon has been in the hands of the interim government, after the prime minister-designate Najib Mikati was unable to distribute ministerial portfolios to the satisfaction of the incumbent president and the different parties and religious groups of the country.

In recent days. Aoun has accused Mikati of not wanting to form his cabinet and has not rule out the possibility of dissolving the government, which could leave the country without both a president and prime minister. The outgoing president can technically take this step until Monday.

“There is no text that says signing decrees accepting the government’s resignation is illegal unless another government is formed, it has to do with which norms are being violated,” the outgoing president said on Friday.

The cabinet of ministers can take over the powers of the head of state in the case of a vacuum, although Aoun has reiterated his opposition to an interim Council, an exceptional measure whose legality has been questioned by some leaders. EFE


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