Wednesday, February 08, 2023 | Rajab 16, 1444 H
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Lebanon’s Aoun leaves as political crisis deepens


BAABDA, Lebanon: Lebanon’s outgoing head of state, Michel Aoun, vacated the presidential palace on Sunday, cheered on by thousands of his loyal supporters, a day before his mandate expires without a designated successor.

Aoun also said he had signed a decree formalising the resignation of Najib Mikati’s caretaker government, deepening a political crisis in a country where the economy has all but collapsed.

Thousand of cheering well-wishers came to pay tribute to Aoun, former army chief and head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which is allied with the Hizbullah.

Aoun’s six-year term was marred by mass protests, a painful economic downturn and the August 2020 mega-explosion of ammonium nitrate that killed hundreds and laid waste to swathes of Beirut.

“This morning, I sent a letter to parliament and signed a decree that considers the government resigned,” Aoun, in his late 80s, told supporters before leaving the palace in the hills above Beirut.

Experts say the move will likely not impact the work of Mikati’s government, which has remained in a caretaker role since legislative elections in the spring.

But it was part of ongoing political arm-wrestling between Aoun and Mikati, who is also in charge of forming a new government. Aoun told parliament in a letter that Mikati was “uninterested” in forming a new government to deal with Lebanon’s myriad problems and called on him to resign.

Mikati retorted that Aoun’s decision had “no constitutional basis” and that his cabinet will “continue to carry out all its constitutional duties, including its caretaker functions”. — AFP

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