Christian Ally of Hezbollah Wins Lebanon Presidency
Parliament elects Michel Aoun, a former army general, ending paralyzing stalemate.
Lebanon’s parliament ended more than two years of political deadlock in the country on Monday, electing as president a former army general who is the main Christian ally of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah. The election of Michel Aoun, 81 years old, who won 83 out of the 127 votes cast, makes him the holder of the most powerful political office for a Christian in the Middle East. Under the country’s system of government, a Maronite Christian occupies the post. In a speech to lawmakers after he was sworn in, Mr. Aoun addressed security, the economy and the repatriation of more than one million refugees from neighboring Syria as some of the main challenges facing Lebanon, a country of 4.3 million people, according to the United Nations. “There is no solution in Syria without the return of the refugees,” Mr. Aoun said. The new president also urged the strengthening of Lebanon’s armed forces to deter threats from countries on its border, including Israel. “Lebanon, which is walking among land mines, still hasn’t been touched by the flames surrounding it in the region, and we will prevent any spark from reaching it,” he said. In Washington, the State Department said Mr. Aoun’s election was “a moment of opportunity” to restore stability and government functions to the country. “The United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Lebanese people and support Lebanon’s independence, sovereignty, security, and stability,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
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