Aoun resigns from government and vacates presidential palace
Dhe Lebanese President Michel Aoun vacated the presidential palace in Baabde on Sunday, a day before his term officially ends on Monday – and without a designated successor. According to local media reports, he previously signed a decree declaring Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s caretaker government to have “resigned”.
This threatens im Lebanon a complete vacuum in the executive branch; usually the government takes over the duties of the president when there is a vacuum in office.
Mikati, meanwhile, said his government would “continue to exercise all its constitutional functions,” according to a report in the Orient le Jour newspaper, unless parliament takes a different view. Aoun’s decree to resign from government has no constitutional value.
Aoun supporters gathered in front of the presidential palace and the politician’s private residence in the Beirut suburb of Rabieh on Sunday to bid farewell to Aoun. His six-year tenure was marked by the country’s most severe economic crisis, a massive currency collapse and the devastating explosions in the port of Beirut in August 2020, which killed more than 220 people and destroyed or damaged large parts of the city. In his farewell speech, Aoun called for comprehensive reforms, the elimination of corruption and a reappraisal of the explosion disaster.
Since the parliamentary elections last spring, Lebanon has been led by an caretaker government headed by Prime Minister-designate Mikati, who has so far failed to form a government. Four attempts to elect a new president have also failed. According to the established religious proportional representation, the Lebanese President must be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister must be a Sunni and the Speaker of the Parliament must be a Shiite.
The head of the largest Christian group in Lebanon, the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Rai, addressed the difficult situation in Lebanon in his Sunday sermon at his official residence in Bkerke. According to the manuscript, he appealed to MPs to end the presidential vacuum by electing a successor to Aoun as soon as possible. It is not the time for dialogue, but the time for the election of a new president, which will not take place through prior agreement on a name, “but through successive ballots with deliberation and constant quorum,” Rai said.