Michel Suleiman, Lebanese president, finishes his term on Sunday with no one to replace him, as political wrangling leaves one of the country’s top posts vacant while it struggles to contain the effects of neighbouring Syria’s civil war.
Parliament failed for a fifth time on Friday to vote for a president after a boycott by some parliament members left it unable to reach the quorum needed for elections.
Suleiman delivered his farewell speech on Saturday, in which he said that dialogue is the only way to overcome the deep divisions that have beset the country.
He said: “We overcame difficult circumstances, hence my call for sustained dialogue, which is the only guarantor for solving dilemmas,” adding that “preserving our national unity is the priority.”
Also speaking on Saturday, Future Movement leader and former prime minister Sa'ad Al-Hariri warned against a presidential vacuum, saying it would endanger the democratic system in the country.
“We should deal with a void in the president’s seat as a serious threat to the integrity of the democratic system. That makes the presidency a target for blackmail with a void and unknown future,” Hariri said in a statement.
The political paralysis highlights deep divisions between Lebanon’s two main blocs – the March 8 Alliance, led by the Shia militant group Hizbollah, and the March 14 Alliance led by the Sunni Muslim Future Movement.
The last presidential vacancy in 2008 contributed to growing instability that eventually sparked clashes across the country, but few political experts see Lebanon heading down the same path.
In recent months, a security crackdown across the tiny Mediterranean country stemmed a wave of clashes and car bombings in the country, and both blocs are keen to maintain stability.
Source : Agencies.