Lebanon’s first presidential elections since 2012 are due to take place next month
10 candidates remain, but only six are expected to be standing, all of them Christian figures. President Michel Aoun is eligible to run again, but looks unlikely to be a candidate. The runner-up in last year’s presidential election has been ordered to stand for the post but he has so far refused to do so.
Will they get on?
With Iran exerting real influence over Lebanese politics, there is likely to be continued tension between the different factions. The country has also not witnessed a presidential election since 2012, with a caretaker government governing the country.
On Monday, when a political crisis erupted as Aoun and Fouad Siniora, the politician widely credited with instigating the Cedar Revolution in 2005, clashed over aid for post-conflict areas, about 250 protesters pelted the Lebanese president’s residence with shoes in protest.
What’s wrong with the country?
Lebanon is divided into 15 ethnic-based regions. The Christian leader of the south is the only Christian holding a top official position. There are several Sunni and Shia Muslim groups, as well as several Christian movements. Divisions within the confessional political system have caused political deadlock and sectarian violence. The country’s sectarian government, formed under the Taif accords, has also provided little impetus for economic growth.
What’s the budget situation?
The Lebanese Central Bank chief, Riad Salameh, admitted in July that the country would need more loans in the coming months and said there were “serious concerns” about the state’s debt sustainability.
Why’s the Muslim vote so important?
The country is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with a strong Shia Muslim community and a small Christian one. It currently has 15 MPs and four deputies from within the region, but the turnout from the Sunnis in the vote will make a difference.
Which political forces are involved?
Lebanon has at least five main political groups, each with supporters among different sects. Each group is trying to secure its agenda before the presidential election so that it can claim victory. As in so many countries, Hezbollah, the Shia political movement, is powerful because of its location close to Syria and the Syrian military, and because it is built to last in cases of infighting and conflict.
Who’s in charge?