Lebanese Christian President Michel Aoun Vacates Post, Creates Political Vacuum Crisis

Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s resignation on Sunday has left a political vacuum in the country amid a crisis. Aoun has left the country without a president and without a replacement, according to an article by The Jakarta Post.

A ‘Beloved Christian President’

Aoun, 89, is the former Christian leader of Lebanon who was at the helm when the deadly 2020 Beirut port blast and ongoing financial crisis occurred. Aoun’s resignation now left the country’s Parliament scrambling to find a replacement to prevent the country from sliding down further.

According to an article by The Jakarta Post, the president has the power to appoint prime ministers, sign bills into law, and approve new governments prior to Parliament’s vote. Right now, the country is under a caretaker government since the appointed Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, has yet to form a government after almost half a year.

The news outlet said Aoun’s supporters trooped to the Baabda Palace to say their goodbyes to him, whom they see as a beloved Christian president.

The protesters wore orange, a color associated with Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) party. They also brought Aoun’s old portraits from when he was still an army commander.

A 73-year-old former soldier who served under Aoun came to the assembly wearing the army uniform he wore at the time. The man told reporters he hoped the former president could serve the country for another three years.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Therese Younes went to the gathering with other teenagers to express her support and sadness at the news of Aoun’s resignation.

“If I was 18 years old, I would leave the country. There’s no Lebanon left after Michel Aoun,” Younes, who said she had supported Aoun since she was 18, told the media.

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‘Divisive Figure’

Despite his supporters’ positive statements about Aoun, some still see him as a divisive figure.

The Jakarta Post article noted that Lebanese Christians see Aoun as a defender in a country with a sectarian system. His critics, however, view the former president as a corruption enabler who helped the Hezbollah to wield power and influence.

Aoun reportedly ascended to power in 2016 with the backing of Hezbollah and Samir Geagea, a political opponent who identifies as a Maronite Christian. The news outlet said that Aoun got the presidency through a deal that returned to power former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni political figure.

During Aoun’s last week as president, he entered into a deal brokered by the United States that delineated his country’s maritime border with Israel.

His critics blasted the deal as “modest” when taking into account the 2019 financial crisis during Aoun’s term. But for his supporters, the deal is a success nonetheless.

According to Reuters, Lebanon’s currency has dipped anew in the middle of the ongoing financial meltdown. The 2019 financial crisis continues to wield its ugly head amid the political demonstrations and poverty that hit many in the country.

With Aoun’s resignation and the resulting power vacuum, the crisis threatens to push the country further down.

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