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Meet Lebanon's Jihad Azour, Christian opposition candidate for president

After months of deadlock, Lebanon’s main Christian parties and opposition converged on the name of Jihad Azour, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia office and a former finance minister, as their preferential candidate for the presidency.
Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia at the International Monetary Fund, gives an interview at Dubai's International Financial Center, on May 1, 2018, in Dubai.

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s main Christian and opposition parties have officially endorsed the former minister and International Monetary Fund (IMF) official Jihad Azour as a presidential candidate this week, signaling rare unified moment around a technocratic figure in an attempt to break the ongoing deadlock in the process.

Azour, 57, is known for his financial expertise, mild demeanor and non-affiliation with any of the big political parties in Beirut. He emerged as a consensus candidate for rivaling Christian parties and independent opposition in the parliament. His nomination is a response to the militant party Hezbollah endorsement of Suleiman Frangieh, another Christian figure who is close to Syria and Iran. 

The Lebanese parliament has failed more than 10 times to pick a president since the departure of former President Michel Aoun from office in late October, leading to a months-long presidential vacuum as the country grapples with a devastating economic crisis.

Azour's nomination suggests a direction from the Christian parties to veto Frangieh's candidacy, even from the Free Patriortic Movement which broke ranks with its ally Hezbollah in endorsing the IMF senior official.

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