Former General Michel Aoun who is a Christian has been elected by the Lebanon parliament as the new president, ending a two-and-a-half-year power vacuum and leading to celebrations in the country’s Christian areas. The new leader, the only Christian head of state in the Middle East, is backed by the Hezbollah movement.
The 81-year-old former Lebanese army chief secured the presidency by winning the support of 83 lawmakers, well above the absolute majority of 65 needed to win, after 45 failed sessions to elect a new leader since May 2014, when Michel Suleiman stepped down as president at the end of his term, Al Jazeera reported.
Michel Aoun was backed by two of his biggest rivals, Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, and former premier Saad Hariri, a Sunni who has received regional support from Saudi Arabia.
Hariri’s support is therefore being seen by some as a sign of both Saudi Arabia’s declining influence in Lebanon and an increasing role of the Iran-backed Hezbollah. It is believed that Hariri decided to back Aoun partly because he suffered losses in his Saudi-based construction firm, Saudi Oger, which had weakened his political influence in Lebanon.
Aoun will return to the presidential palace more than two-and-a-half decades after being forced out of it as army commander an interim head of the state by Syrian forces and Lebanese troops loyal to a rival commander.
Source: Christian Post
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