Lebanon’s 12th attempt to elect president yields no result
The parliament of cash-strapped Lebanon has failed to elect a president for the 12th time, with neither candidate securing enough votes to win the first round. The winner needs 86 votes from the 128 members of parliament, or two-thirds majority.
With neither Hezbollah-backed Suleiman Frangieh nor Jihad Azour – who was finance minister from 2005 to 2008 – receiving the required number of votes, the failed attempt will likely deepen sectarian tensions in Lebanon, already struggling amid numerous other challenges.
Problems Keep Piling Up
The country is facing one of the worst economic crises in the world, in addition to an unprecedented political paralysis with its cabinet only partially empowered and its legislature fractured. In fact, it has been over seven months since Lebanon last had a head of state.
The vote for the presidency, reserved for a Maronite Christian under Lebanon’s delicate sectarian power-sharing system, pits Frangieh against Azour, who has mainly been endorsed by Christian and independent legislators.
The first round of voting failed to proceed to the second – where the winner only requires 65 votes – when the chamber lost the quorum it required to continue as lawmakers from Hezbollah and allied party Amal chose to walk out following the first round.
Rising Pressure From Other Countries
The international community is calling on Lebanon to swiftly elect a consensus candidate who can bring the country its long-lost harmony by helping it enact reforms needed to unlock substantial amounts of loans from abroad.
A friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Frangieh hails from a storied family dynasty, just like several prominent political figures in Lebanon. Despite his polarising alliances, the former lawmaker and minister has promised to be “the president of all Lebanese”.
Meanwhile, Azour has stepped aside from his role as the International Monetary Fund’s head of the Middle East and Central Asia in view of the challenging presidential contest. The former finance minister on Monday said he wanted to “contribute to a solution”, rather than a crisis.
The contests are yet to yield any result as even the 12th attempt at them has failed. On Tuesday, France and the United States reiterated the pressing need for the Lebanese lawmakers to cooperate and swiftly elect a new president.