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Michael Aoun Chosen President of Lebanon

Image: Michael Aoun Chosen President of Lebanon

Lebanese president-elect Michel Aoun arrives at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, on Oct. 31, 2016, after he was elected ending a political vacuum of more than two years. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 31 Oct 2016 12:59 PM

Michael Aoun has been chosen president of Lebanon Monday in a move that reportedly strengthens Iran and its allies in the region and ends more than two years of vacancy in the country's presidential post.

Aoun, 81, a retired general, won the support of former Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, who was supported by Saudi Arabia, The Guardian reported.

"(Aoun's election) also politically legitimizes Hezbollah as a nationalist group with cross-sectarian support – a landmark moment for an organization that had largely been defined by its sectarian origins," reported Martin Chulov, a writer for The Guardian.

"Demonstrations in support of Aoun were held in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut, and on the streets of Damascus, where the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad had also strongly backed the new president's candidacy," Chulov added.

The country's presidential post had been vacant for more than two years since Michel Suleiman stepped down from power when his term ended in 2014. That led to political squabbling over 45 sessions in parliament that led to a lack of a quorum, Aljazeera reported.

Hariri, who led the Sunni-dominated Future bloc, the largest in parliament, announced last month that he would back Aoun for president, possibly pointing to the increasing power of Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, and Saudi Arabia's diminishing influence in the region, Aljazeera said.

Hariri is expected to become prime minister, a role he was ousted from in 2011, spending most of the following five years in exile, The Guardian reported. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he would support Hariri as prime minister and called for Lebanon residents to accept Aoun as president, The Guardian said.

Aoun said in his inaugural speech that he would keep Lebanon safe from terrorism, build up the country's military and push for Syrian refugees to return home, according to the New York Times.

"Lebanon is walking through a minefield but is still at a safe distance from the flames in the region," Aoun said, according to the Times. "One of our priorities is to prevent igniting a spark and to adopt an independent foreign policy."

Aoun had been eyeing Lebanon's presidency for decades, reported the Times, leading two rival governments and was chief of staff of the army during Lebanon's civil war in the 1980s. Aoun began to win popular support by building a reputation as an independent while railing against corruption in Lebanon, the Times noted.

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Michael Aoun has been chosen president of Lebanon Monday in a move that reportedly strengthens Iran and its allies in the region and ends more than two years of vacancy in the country's presidential post.
michael aoun, president, lebanon
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2016-59-31
Monday, 31 Oct 2016 12:59 PM
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