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Lebanese President Aoun quits office after disastrous term leading to economic collapse

Outgoing Lebanese President Michel Aoun left Baabda Palace on Sunday, leaving a vacuum at the top of the failing country.

The 89-year-old Christian presided over the financial collapse of the state and the deadly Beirut port explosion that killed more than 200 people in 2020.

Leaving office with no one to replace him also leaves Lebanon facing a constitutional crisis.

But despite the troubled legacy, thousands of supporters turned out to wave him away after hearing him acknowledge the struggle ahead.

“The situation requires a huge effort,” Aoun told the crowd. “You know how much Lebanon and yourselves have lost. Without this effort, we cannot end our suffering. We cannot save Lebanon from this deep abyss.”

Four sessions in Lebanon’s fractured parliament have failed to reach a consensus to replace Aoun and the cabinet is now operating on an interim basis.

A bright spot in his legacy is that in his final week as president, he signed a US-brokered agreement delineating Lebanon’s southern maritime border with Israel – a modest diplomatic breakthrough that would allow both countries to extract natural gas from offshore deposits.

Aoun said the deal paved the way for gas finds that could be Lebanon’s “last chance” to recover from a three-year financial meltdown that cost the currency 95% of its value and plunged 80% of the population in poverty.

Lebanon has also made slow progress on a checklist of reforms needed to access $3 billion in financing from the International Monetary Fund.

euronews Gt

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