Another obvious failure in the Lebanese Parliament. MPs have not yet managed to elect a president on Wednesday 14 June. Neither candidate, Sleimane Frangié, a former minister backed by the powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah, and his opponent, economist Jihad Azour, received enough votes.

This is the twelfth time that Parliament, where neither the Hezbollah camp nor that of its opponents has a clear majority, has met without success, while the country, deprived of a president for more than seven months, is in full economic collapse.

In the first round, Jihad Azour, an official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), obtained 59 votes, against 51 votes for his competitor, former minister Sleimane Frangié. Any candidate needs 86 votes to be elected in the first round.

>> READ ALSO: Despite regional détente, the Lebanese presidential election still deadlocked

No consensus

The deputies of Hezbollah and its allies, supporting Sleimane Frangié, then came out, to prevent the quorum in a second round in which 65 votes, the absolute majority, are enough to elect a president.

Parliamentarians from Hezbollah and its allies had used the same tactic in previous sessions. The party dominates political life and has a powerful armed wing.

"The president can only be chosen by consensus," Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah said before the session. "We don't impose anything on others and we don't want them to impose on us" a candidate, he added.

Jihad Azour, who suspended his mission to the IMF to lead his campaign, said Monday he wanted to "contribute to a solution and not be a factor of crisis".

Former Finance Minister (2005-2008), he assured that his candidacy was "not a challenge for anyone", in response to Hezbollah which qualified him as a candidate of "confrontation" and "challenge".

A first candidate supported by Hezbollah's opponents, MP Michel Moawad, had already been described as such by the Shiite party, before withdrawing last week in favor of Jihad Azour.

Denominational system

Sleimane Frangie, whose grandfather was president of Lebanon, had promised Sunday to be "the president of all Lebanese", despite his alliance with Hezbollah and the friendship that binds him to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Under the sectarian power-sharing system, Lebanon's presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian.

Lebanon is ruled by a resigning government with reduced powers since the end of Michel Aoun's mandate on October 31, 2022.

Faced with this blockage and "in the absence of significant international pressure", the most likely is that the country enters a "prolonged vacancy period" that could last several months, says analyst Karim Bitar.

The daily Al-Akhar, close to Hezbollah, headlined Wednesday on its entire front page: "The Void".

During the last presidential election, the Hezbollah camp paralyzed the action of Parliament for more than two years to impose the election of Michel Aoun, its ally, in 2016.

Paris calls for a way out of the crisis

In the past, MPs often waited for instructions from their various foreign "sponsors" before voting.

The only country to really get involved in this issue, the France, former proxy power, must send to Beirut the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, appointed "personal envoy for Lebanon" of President Emmanuel Macron.

Paris on Tuesday called on Lebanese officials to "take seriously" the parliamentary session and "make it an opportunity to end the crisis".

Washington also urged the Lebanese parliament "to finish the job" and elect a new president with "a sense of urgency."

For Karim Bitar, the impasse could lead to "negotiations that would lead to a solution around a third man, and an election decided in advance, like most other elections in the history of Lebanon".

With AFP

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