Lebanon’s presidential palace stands empty today for the first time in nine years. No sucessor has been found for Emile Lahoud’s chair, and his powers have for the time being reverted to the government. The parliament has been unable to find a candidate acceptable to the anti-Syrian ruling coalition and the opposition led by pro-Syrian Hezbollah. One of pro-Syrian Lahoud’s final acts was to confer the security of the country on the army, immediately rejected as a “meaningless” declaration by the government. Most of the Sunni community supports it, while the Shi’ite community mainly backs the opposition. Lebanon’s Christians are split between the two.
Today’s newspapers, however, all have similar covers – for several Lebanon is entering a period of “organised vacuum”. One Beirut resident was clear about who should have been elected; former general and Maronite Christian leader Michel Aoun.
“He was the only hope, this situation’s no good at all”, was is reaction. Opposition papers talk more about “organised chaos”, and for sure Lebanon is entering uncharted waters.
Aoun is a divisive figure, and his Thursday initiative to conditionally drop his presidential ambitions to break the deadlock was ruled unconstitutional by the government.
Parliament next meets to try and choose a president on November the 30th. Until then, the country holds its breath.