President Aoun leaves workplace as Lebanese disaster deepens By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A billboard depicting Lebanese President Michel Aoun, whose time period is because of finish on October 31, is positioned in Jdeideh, Lebanon October 27, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Picture


By Maya Gebeily

BAABDA, Lebanon (Reuters) – Michel Aoun, the 89-year-old Christian president who presided over Lebanon’s cataclysmic monetary collapse and lethal Beirut port explosion, is leaving the presidential palace on Sunday, leaving a void on the prime of the failed Lebanese state.

Lebanon’s parliament has to this point been unable to agree on a successor to the put up, who has the facility to signal payments, appoint new prime ministers and greenlight formations authorities earlier than they’re voted on by parliament.

As throughout greater than half of Aoun’s tenure, Lebanon is presently ruled by an interim cupboard because the prime minister-designate has been making an attempt for six months to type a authorities.

Aoun is a deeply divisive determine, adored by many Christians who noticed him as their defender in Lebanon’s sectarian system, however accused by critics of fostering corruption and serving to the armed group Hezbollah acquire affect.

He received the presidency in 2016, backed by each Hezbollah and rival Maronite Christian politician Samir Geagea in a deal that introduced Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri again as prime minister.

The six-year time period that adopted noticed the Lebanese military battle Islamist militants on the Syrian border in 2017 with the assistance of Hezbollah, a brand new electoral regulation handed in 2018 and main vitality firms started exploratory drilling in offshore blocks in 2020.

Throughout his last week on the palace, he signed a US-brokered settlement delineating Lebanon’s southern maritime border with Israel.

“Aoun was the strongest time in the entire historical past of Lebanon,” stated Lama Nohra, a 32-year-old supporter and mom of three younger youngsters. “In spite of everything his accomplishments, how may we not love him?”

For others, these modest successes pale compared to the 2019 monetary disaster, which plunged greater than 80% of the inhabitants into poverty and sparked probably the most widespread anti-government protests in current historical past.

Aoun’s tenure was additionally inextricably linked to the 2020 explosion on the port of Beirut, which killed greater than 220 individuals.

Aoun later stated he was conscious of the chemical compounds saved there and advised Reuters in an interview on Saturday that his presidential powers weren’t extensive sufficient to cope with the financial disaster.

“He was by far the worst president within the historical past of Lebanon,” stated Michel Meouchi, a lawyer and father. “I want him a vacuum within the presidency.”

The son of a farmer from a suburb of Beirut, Aoun’s journey to the presidency started through the 1975-1990 civil warfare, throughout which he served as commander of the Lebanese military and chief of a of the 2 rival governments.

He returned to Beirut after 15 years in exile, as soon as Syrian forces withdrew beneath worldwide strain following the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

In 2006, his Free Patriotic Motion shaped an alliance with Hezbollah, which introduced vital Christian assist to the armed group. In his interview with Reuters, Aoun credited Hezbollah for its “useful” function in appearing as a “deterrent” in opposition to any Israeli assault through the maritime border talks.