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Lebanon’s parliament has failed to elect a president for the 12th time

The quorum collapsed after the Hezbollah-led bloc withdrew after the first round of voting.

Lebanon’s parliament has failed – for the 12th time – to elect a president and break the political deadlock that has gripped the country for months.

Lawmakers held a session on Wednesday to choose a replacement for former President Michel Aoun, whose term expired last October, but disagreements prevented them from reaching the required threshold.

The main rivalry was between former finance minister and senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official Jihad Azour and Marada Party leader Suleiman Frangieh, whose family has a long history in Lebanese politics.

The first round of voting in Lebanon’s parliament requires a possible maximum of 128 lawmakers, or 86 of two-thirds, to elect a new leader.

Azhar, backed by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah opposition, outnumbered his opponent in the first round with 59 votes to Frangieh’s 51, but fell short of the required majority.

Eighteen lawmakers cast blank ballots or protest votes or voted for minority candidates.

The powerful Hezbollah-led bloc withdrew after the initial round, breaking the quorum and preventing a second round of voting, where candidates need only a 65-vote majority for the presidency.

Lebanon has a complex confessional political system based on the National Pact, an unwritten agreement between the country’s political blocs first agreed in 1943 to determine faith-based representation and power-sharing.

According to the agreement, the president and army commander must be Maronite Christians, while the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shia Muslim.

The positions of Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Prime Minister are held by Greek Orthodox Christians, and the Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff of the Armed Forces is always Druze.

The MPs themselves are divided by a quota system, requiring a ratio of 6:5 between Christians and Druze and Christians.

Shia members of parliament largely support Frangieh, Hezbollah’s preferred candidate, while Azur is supported by the majority of Druze lawmakers.

If elected, the new president will have to navigate a major economic crisis that began in 2019, as well as a political system that has long suffered from corruption and mismanagement.

Some have advocated a bailout deal with the IMF as a key component of Lebanon’s economic recovery, which Azores could favor as he held the post of regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at the agency until he took a leave of absence last week. His candidacy followed.

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