Lebanese government fails to elect a president in fourth attempt

The next attempt at a vote will take place on Thursday, just four days before Aoun's term ends.

 Lebanese MP Michel Moawad casts his vote during the first session to elect a new president at the parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon September 29, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)
Lebanese MP Michel Moawad casts his vote during the first session to elect a new president at the parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon September 29, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)

The Lebanese government failed to elect a president in a fourth attempt at voting on Monday, just a week before current President Michel Aoun's term ends.

Michel Moawad, an independent Lebanese politician opposed to Hezbollah, received 39 votes, 50 MPs voted with a blank slip, 10 MPS voted for Issam Khalifa (a professor specializing on Lebanon's maritime borders) and 13 MPs submitted ballots reading "New Lebanon." In the last attempted vote, 55 MPs cast blank ballots, while Moawad received 42 votes.

House Speaker, Nabih Berri, scheduled a new session to elect a president for October 27, just four days before Aoun's term ends.

"There is a dominant authority working to blackmail MPs and the Lebanese to maintain its quotas by disrupting sessions," said Moawad after the vote on Monday, according to MTV Lebanon.

"Treason parties are held between the presidential election sessions, and I tell Hezbollah that it is not possible to continue and accept the logic of treason and coercion," added Moawad. "There is no consensual candidate in the balance of power today unless he submits his credentials to Hezbollah and 'the movement' and the alternative solution is to gather the opposition and secure 65 votes to change the balance of power."

 Lawmakers gather in parliament in Beirut, Lebanon October 13, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR) Lawmakers gather in parliament in Beirut, Lebanon October 13, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)

Pro-Hezbollah MP Jamil al-Sayyed cast a ballot reading "condolences" in Monday's vote, stating that "everyone is waiting for an external intervention," according to Al-Akhbar.

MP Hassan Fadlallah, a member of Hezbollah's political branch, stated on Monday that "there are those who insist on making the president of the republic a symbol of the nation’s division, and we insist that he be a symbol of the nation’s unity, and that it be within the agreement of the parliamentary blocs.”

Fadlallah called for there to be a full consensus on any candidate voted on.

President Michel Aoun's term ends in seven days

The term of current Lebanese President Michel Aoun ends on October 31. It is unclear what will happen if a new president is not elected by then.

In 2014, as  Lebanon also failed to elect a president before the previous president's term ended, leaving a vacuum that lasted two years and fourty six rounds of votes, until Michel Aoun was elected as president in October 2016. In the interim, the government of then prime minister Tamaam Salam assumed presidential duties.