Lebanon Parliament fails to elect President in first session
Lebanese Parliament members were unable to elect a President during the first session aimed at picking a new head of the republic.
The Lebanese parliament failed on Thursday to elect a new President during the first session aimed at doing so due to none of the candidates receiving the mandated two-thirds of the vote.
The Lebanese constitution stipulates that a candidate must receive the approval of two-thirds of the Parliament's 128 members. If the MPs fail to elect a President during the first session, the second session will only require the candidates to receive 65 votes (50%+1).
During Thursday's session, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced that 63 MPs cast a blank paper, i.e., they did not vote for any of the candidates, 36 voted for Michel Mouawad, and 11 voted for Salim Edde.
After several lawmakers left Parliament, there was no longer a quorum, and the second round of elections could not take place. This means that the speaker must call for another parliamentary session to try and elect a new president again.
The six-year term of President Michel Aoun will end on October 31. He had become president following a deadlock that lasted for two and a half years and spanned more than 45 parliamentary sessions.
The deadlock stemmed from an internal crisis that the country was going through due to political disagreements, leaving candidates without the required number of votes.
The country is also in somewhat of a political crisis in the meantime, with a transitional cabinet running it as the formation of a new one has been facing delays for about a month due to political disputes.
Lebanon, a country of around six million people, is grappling with an unprecedented financial crisis that the World Bank says is on a scale usually associated with wars.
The country has been plunged into a deep financial and economic crisis for nearly two years, which paralyzed the country and mired more than 70% of its population into poverty.
The Lebanese banking system has completely collapsed, with the national currency depreciating more than 20 times against the USD.
The World Bank warned that Lebanon was enduring an economic depression that might rank among the top 10 worst economic crises in the world since the mid-nineteenth century, in the absence of any solution on the horizon that would get it out of a reluctance reality exacerbated by political paralysis.
The small Mediterranean country defaulted on its debt in 2020; the Lebanese currency has lost around 90% of its value on the black market, and the UN now considers four in five Lebanese to be living under the poverty line.