Lebanon: President Leaves Without Successor

Michel Aoun, the 89-year-old Maronite Christian president of Lebanon and former leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) — whose rule coincided with the country's cataclysmic financial meltdown and the deadly Beirut port blast — left the presidential palace on Sunday without a chosen successor

Lebanon: President Leaves Without Successor
Image credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Michel Aoun, the 89-year-old Maronite Christian president of Lebanon and former leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) — whose rule coincided with the country's cataclysmic financial meltdown and the deadly Beirut port blast — left the presidential palace on Sunday without a chosen successor, leaving the presidency vacant.
  • As the Lebanese parliament continues to deliberate on who will be the next president of the republic, caretaker PM Najib Mikati has been unable to form a new government due to political complications, leaving Lebanon now without a president or a government.
  • In his final speech outside the presidential palace, Aoun stated that Lebanon has entered a new “chapter which requires huge efforts."
  • As his last act as president, Aoun announced that he had signed a decree formalizing the resignation of Najib Mikati’s caretaker government and that Mikati wasn't interested in forming a government. However, the decree doesn't change much regarding government formation.
  • Last week, Aoun signed a deal with Israel that officially demarcates the two countries' maritime border, allowing Israel to drill for gas at the Karish field, while Lebanon will have access to the Qana field.
  • Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, came to power in 2016 following over two years of political disagreement that left Lebanon without a president.

Sources: Reuters, Arab News, Al Jazeera, Times of Israel, and Improve the News.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Al Mayadeen. Aoun did his best under highly unfavorable conditions. Lebanon is a divided and corrupt country, and any president would have had a difficult time building consensus and effectively governing. Aoun, with the help of Hezbollah, managed to secure Lebanon's territorial rights — one of the few victories the country has scored in years.
  • Narrative B, as provided by The National News. Though Aoun's supporters contend that he valiantly fought corruption and protected Lebanon's Christian community, in reality, he's just as corrupt as any other Lebanese politician. Besides the fact that he changed sides and allied with Hezbollah, he's also guilty of setting up his corrupt son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, as the leader of his political party, the Free Patriotic Movement.