Lebanon parliament fails to meet necessary quorum to elect new president as political crisis deepens
Lebanon's parliament has failed to elect a new president after no candidate could receive the necessary two-thirds majority to win the presidency in the first parliamentary vote, amid bitter divisions over a replacement for Michel Aoun whose term terminates next month.
Thursday's session was attended by 122 members of the 128-strong legislature, of whom 66 cast blank ballots.
Christian politician Michel Moawad, the son of former president Rene Moawad, emerged as the front-runner but his 36 votes fell well short of the 86 needed to win in the first round.
Eleven lawmakers voted for entrepreneur and philanthropist Salim Edde, while 10 others cast their ballots for “Lebanon.”
Dozens of legislators walked out of the session after the results of the first round were announced, stripping the second round of voting.
Top official: Hezbollah won’t let US impose its favored president on Lebanon
Meanwhile, a high-ranking official from Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement says his group will not allow the election of a new president, who is subservient to the United States and implements Washington’s diktats.
Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, head of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, called on the Lebanese nation to stay away from the US’s deceptive policies.
“Certain pro-US individuals and political factions are gravely mistaken to pursue Washington’s interests either in the forthcoming election or any other political initiative in the hope of saving Lebanon,” Safieddine said.
“It is downright impossible for a US-allied candidate to be elected as Lebanon’s next president,” the senior Hezbollah official pointed out.
Deep divisions among lawmakers have raised fears Lebanon could be left without a president after Aoun's mandate expires at the end of October.
The incumbent's own election in 2016 came after a 29-month vacancy at the presidential palace as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts to reach consensus on a candidate.
“If there is a political vacuum, the economic crisis would intensify and there is a clear risk of security incidents,” analyst Karim Bitar said.