Regional and western powers to reconsider ties with Lebanon if no president elected

Lebanon has been without a president since October

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri poses for a group photo with representatives from Egypt, France, the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Beirut. AFP
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Five regional and western countries have threatened to “reconsider all relations” with Lebanon if parliament fails to elect a president, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday.

The warning comes as Lebanon’s rapidly deteriorating economic situation — one of the worst crises in modern history — stretches into its fourth year.

Representatives of the US, France, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement that “the real support for Lebanon will start following the election of the future president” and after reforms have been passed — a condition for Beirut to gain access to billions of dollars in aid.

The announcement comes on the heels of a meeting hosted in Paris last week, in which representatives of world powers met Lebanese politicians in an attempt to end the months of political and social deadlock that has prevented the election of a president.

Electing a head of state is often a fraught and politicised affair in the small Mediterranean nation, although the country has never before faced a double governance vacuum.

Lebanon has been without a president since former leader Michel Aoun's mandate expired in October, and the country is administered only by a caretaker cabinet, limited in its power.

Mr Aoun's own election in 2016 came after more than two years of political deadlock, during which Lebanon operated without a president.

The deeply polarised parliament made 11 attempts to elect a new president before electoral sessions were suspended on January 19.

With no government and no president, passing urgently needed economic reforms will be difficult.

Updated: February 13, 2023, 5:39 PM