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Lebanese Parliament Fails to Elect New President

Lebanese Parliament Fails to Elect New President

Thursday, 29 September, 2022 - 09:45
An MP casts his vote during the first session to elect a new president at the parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon September 29, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Parliament failed to elect a new head of state on Thursday to replace President Michel Aoun when his term ends on Oct. 31, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said he would call another session when consensus emerged on a candidate.

However, it is unclear whether legislators in a deeply divided parliament will be able to reach a quorum for the session, raising prospects of renewed political paralysis.

The bulk of votes cast by lawmakers at Thursday's session -- 63 -- were blank. Michel Moawad won the backing of 36 of 122 lawmakers who attended.

Unless consensus emerges on a candidate, the presidency looks set to fall vacant when Aoun's term ends.

Lebanon is going through an economic meltdown and the government struggles to implement structural reforms required for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

The crisis, which started in late 2019, has plunged three-quarters of the country into poverty and the Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value against the dollar.

Anticipating a presidential vacuum, politicians have stepped up efforts to agree a new cabinet led by Prime Minister Najib Mikati - who is currently serving in a caretaker capacity - to which presidential powers could pass until a president can be agreed.

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