Photo by Ali Fawaz
Lebanon’s parliament elected former army commander Michel Aoun as president on Monday, filling a post that had been vacant for more than two years and injecting hope that the country’s long-running political paralysis would come to an end, the Associated Pess reprts.
Aoun, a Maronite Christian, enjoys a wide base of support among Lebanon’s educated Christians.
Aoun secured a simple majority of votes in parliament after a tension-filled, chaotic session that saw several rounds of voting because extra ballots appeared in the ballot box each time. In the end, the transparent box was placed in the middle of Parliament, where lawmakers cast their votes in front of two witnesses who watched to make sure no extra ballots were put in.
“We haven’t voted in a long time. We’re learning again,” Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri joked of the nearly two-hour process.
In the end, Aoun garnered 83 votes out of 127 lawmakers present at the session. He had been widely expected to achieve a two-thirds majority in the first round, but failed by two votes.
Members of parliament broke out in applause after Aoun was finally declared president. His supporters across the country erupted in cheers as they watched the proceedings on screens set up in the streets. Celebratory gunfire could also be heard in the capital.