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Lebanon Presidency Ends Without Successor

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Lebanon is facing a political crisis after the nine-year term of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud ended without a successor. The country is now uncertain as to its political future, which is threatening to create a possible power vacuum in the government—and has left Lebanon in limbo.

Mr. Lahoud’s departure has caused turmoil among several government factions vying for power. These groups refuse to recognize each other’s roles in the political process. According to pro-Western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the constitution affirms that with the president’s departure, temporary control is automatically transferred to his party and cabinet.

However, when President Lahoud left office, the retiring president recommended the army and General Michel Suleiman take charge. Gen. Suleiman is considered a neutral candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

The law also requires that a presidential candidate be a Maronite Christian. The election has already been postponed six times due to disagreement among various factions claiming control.

The political clashes have brought the country to a standstill. The army has been deployed to patrol the streets of Beirut, the nation’s capital, and schools have been shut down.

Lebanese authorities, though, said they are hopeful that a compromise will soon end the political stalemate.

Recently the Lebanese opposition leader, Michel Aoun, said that he would conditionally support Gen. Suleiman’s appointment. Mr. Aoun’s decision (who many once thought aspired to the presidency) could have positive implications for all parties as it signals the possible succession of power to Gen. Suleiman and restoration of political stability to the country.


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