Located between Israel and Syria in the East Mediterranean, Lebanon has been without a leader since President Michel Sleiman’s term ended on May 25. Some fear the vacated position could further diminish the historical Christian influence in the region.
A nation comprised of Shiite Muslims compounded by sectarian infighting, the Lebanese president has traditionally been a Christian working in a shared power system.
“With Lebanon you can never tell when the combination of internal struggle and external regional struggle will fuse together in a combustible way,” New York University Middle East expert Mohamad Bazzi told Fox News. “The more instability and insecurity in Lebanon, the more likely there will be violence in car bombs and potentially worse.”
Under the terms of the Taif Agreement, an accord with various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, the president of the country must be a Maronite. The Maronite Church in Lebanon is the largest Christian denomination in the nation and represents about 22 percent of the population.
The Daily Star reports Hezbollah (the Party of God), a Shi'a Islamic militant group backed by Iran, is pushing for a quick presidential election.
Several diplomatic leaders have encouraged Hezbollah to end its involvement with Syria’s civil war, but Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, told Al-Alam News, “We want a president that does not conspire against us, [does] not backstab us, and remains solid on their position to support the resistance ... that’s not a difficult condition.”
Fox News reports that a two-thirds majority in parliament is necessary to elect a new president.
Publication date: June 3, 2014