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How will Lebanon’s Christians deal with presidential vacancy?

If a new Lebanese president is not elected by the constitutionally stipulated deadline of May 25, the Christians’ options are limited.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman (R) gestures beside Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai (L),  in a celebration to solidify the reconciliation between Christians and Druze in Brih May 17, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir  (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTR3PLSX
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Unless there is a sudden and major development in internal or external political positions before May 25, Lebanon will have a presidential vacancy for the third time in its modern history. Repeated attempts to hold a parliamentary session to elect a new president have failed. The term of the current president, Michel Suleiman, expires at midnight on May 24. After leaving the presidential palace, he will be the first Lebanese president to not have directly received the presidency from his predecessor or to have handed it to his successor. Suleiman was elected president on May 25, 2008, after a presidential vacancy that started on Nov. 24, 2007. When he leaves the presidency this weekend, he likely will be leaving a similar presidential vacancy of unknown duration.

It can be said that the Lebanese political system has become used to presidential vacancies and has adapted to them, especially in light of the constitutional amendments approved by the Taif Agreement in Saudi Arabia in 1989. The Taif Agreement made the presidency a secondary post within a quasi-parliamentary system whereby all constitutional institutions can largely continue to function in the absence of a president.

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