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Lebanon Fails To Elect President For 9th Time

Lebanon’s divided parliament failed to elect a new president Thursday for a ninth time, despite the damage the political deadlock is doing to efforts to bail out its bankrupt economy.

Moawad’s candidacy is opposed by Hezbollah, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah called last month for a president ready to stand up to Washington.

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri reiterated calls for dialogue among lawmakers to find a consensus candidate to prevent the process dragging on for months.

Aoun’s election in 2016 followed a more than two-year vacancy at the presidential palace as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts to elect a president before reaching a consensus on his candidacy.

By convention, Lebanon’s presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, the premiership is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the post of parliament speaker goes to a Shiite Muslim.

A cabinet meeting exacerbated divisions between Hezbollah and its main Christian ally the FPM, which says the caretaker government should not meet until a new president has been named.

Lebanon can ill afford a prolonged power vacuum as it grapples with a financial crisis dubbed by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history, with a currency in free fall, severe electricity shortages and soaring poverty rates.

The country’s caretaker government has limited powers and cannot enact the sweeping reforms demanded by international lenders to release billions of dollars in bailout loans.

Parliament will convene for a 10th attempt to elect a president on December 15.

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