Le­ba­non’s Aoun elec­ted pre­si­dent, en­ding 29-month va­cuum

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

LE­BA­NON - The Le­ba­ne­se par­li­a­ment elec­ted for­mer ar­my com­man­der Mi­chel Aoun as pre­si­dent, en­ding a 29-month pre­si­den­ti­al va­cuum as part of a po­li­ti­cal deal that is ex­pec­ted to ma­ke Sun­ni Mus­lim lea­der Saad al-Ha­ri­ri pri­me mi­nis­ter. Aoun, who is in his 80s, se­cu­red the pre­si­d­en­cy by win­ning the sup­port of 83 MPs, well abo­ve the ab­so­lu­te ma­jo­ri­ty of 65 nee­ded to win, ac­cor­ding to a tal­ly of vo­tes read out in a te­le­vi­sed broad­cast from par­li­a­ment. Fi­re­works echoed across Beirut as the tal­ly showed Aoun the win­ner. Aoun, an MP, was shown smi­ling in his seat. The Le­ba­ne­se pre­si­d­en­cy is re­ser­ved for a Ma­ro­ni­te Chris­ti­an in the coun­try’s sec­ta­ri­an po­wers­ha­ring sy­s­tem.

Ha­ri­ri’s de­ci­si­on to en­dor­se Aoun mar­ked a ma­jor po­li­ti­cal con­ces­si­on re­flec­ting the di­mi­nis­hed role of Sau­di Ara­bia in Le­ba­non, and the de­ci­si­ve in­flu­en­ce wiel­ded by the Tehran-back­ed Hez­bol­lah. Sau­di Ara­bia had back­ed Ha­ri­ri and his al­lies through ye­ars of po­li­ti­cal strug­gle with Hez­bol­lah and its al­lies.

Ha­ri­ri’s own fi­nan­ci­al mis­for­tu­nes ha­ve al­so play­ed a big part in brin­ging about the break­through. His po­li­ti­cal net­work in Le­ba­non was hit by a cash crunch cau­sed by fi­nan­ci­al trou­bles at his Sau­di-ba­sed con­struc­ti­on firm, Sau­di Oger.

Ana­lysts say the po­si­ti­on of pri­me mi­nis­ter, which he pre­vious­ly held from 2009 to 2011, should help him sho­re up his sup­port ahead of par­li­a­men­ta­ry elec­ti­ons that are due to be held next year.

Aoun is due to meet MPs la­ter this week on their pre­fe­ren­ces for pri­me mi­nis­ter. He is obli­ged to de­sig­na­te the can­di­da­te with the gre­a­test sup­port among MPs, ex­pec­ted to be Ha­ri­ri.

(Reu­te­res)

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