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President Aoun leaves the presidential palace, after a mandate marked by crises

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun left the presidential palace on Sunday, before the expiration of his six-year term on Monday, amid a political crisis. Despite four attempts, Parliament was unable to elect his successor.

President Michel Aoun left his post at the head of a Lebanese state in the midst of a crisis on Sunday, October 30, leaving the presidential post vacant on the eve of the official expiration of his six-year term.

The 89-year-old Christian leader has no designated successor as parliament failed to form a majority to elect a new head of state.

Michel Aoun also approved the resignation of the interim government of Najib Mikati, which will however continue to deal with current affairs as it has done for six months, for lack of agreement between the parties on the composition of a new executive.

Michel Aoun left the presidential palace in Baabda, south of Beirut, on foot to the sound of the national anthem.

He went to meet hundreds of supporters gathered to greet him, dressed in orange, the color associated with his party, the Free Patriotic Movement (CPL), and brandishing his portrait of president or head of the army , a position he held between 1984 and 1990, during the civil war.

Returning from fifteen years of exile in France after the departure of the Syrian army in 2005, Michel Aoun is a divisive figure in Lebanon, adored by many Christians who consider him to be the defender of the denominational power-sharing system but accused by its critics for turning a blind eye to corruption and helping to establish Hezbollah’s influence on the political scene.

A presidency marked by the economic collapse of the country

The former commander of the armed forces and Prime Minister was elected president in 2016 with the support of the Shiite party and armed group, with which the CPL had formed an alliance ten years earlier, and the endorsement of his Maronite Christian rival Samir Geagea under the terms of an agreement which allowed the return to the head of the government of the Sunni Saad Hariri.

In Lebanon, the position of president is held by a Christian, that of prime minister by a Sunni Muslim and that of speaker of parliament by a Shia Muslim.

Michel Aoun’s mandate was marked by an army operation in 2017 to drive out of Lebanese territory, with the help of Hezbollah, jihadists present near the Syrian border, the vote of a new electoral law in 2018 and in its last week, the signing of an agreement on the delimitation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

These achievements are applauded by its supporters but considered quite modest by its detractors in the face of the serious financial crisis that Lebanon has been experiencing since 2019, which has pushed 80% of its population into poverty and triggered large anti-government demonstrations.

Michel Aoun’s mandate was also marked by the explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020, which killed more than 220 people and destroyed entire sections of the Lebanese capital.

In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, the Christian leader said his presidential powers were too limited to deal with the economic crisis.

He also indicated that his departure from the presidency did not mean the end of his political career.

With Reuters

France 24-Trans

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