With the departure of outgoing President Michel Aoun after six years in office, Lebanon is heading towards a period without a head of state or government. The 89-year-old left his presidential palace in Beirut on Sunday. Hundreds of supporters gathered in the street. The caliph remains open as the main parties in the crisis-torn Mediterranean country are locked in a bitter power struggle. Aoun’s term ends at midnight.
Shortly before, the outgoing head of state signed a decree by which the caretaker government headed by Najib Mikati resigned. “Today one phase ends and another begins. It requires great effort and work so that we can end our crises,” Aoun said in a speech to the palace. His supporters waved orange FPM flags and posters of the head of state, “Today marks an important end.”
Lebanon is suffering from the worst economic and financial crisis in its history. In addition, people are still feeling the effects of the devastating explosion in the port of the capital, Beirut, more than two years ago. Three quarters of the population now lives below the poverty line. The local currency lost more than 95 percent of its value.
‘We are heading into the unknown’
Many Lebanese hold the former president and his allies in the pro-Iranian Hezbollah responsible for the abuses. Aoun, in turn, criticized Central Bank President Riad Salameh, who is also under investigation in Europe on suspicion of money laundering. According to Aoun, it was not possible to bring Salama to trial. A commentator on Lebanon’s New TV said: “We are on our way to the unknown.”
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