AFP
Last updated: 11 March, 2015

Lebanon lawmakers fail to pick president for 20th time

Lebanon's parliament failed for the 20th time Wednesday to elect a president, after more than nine months with no head of state because of tensions linked to war-torn neighbour Syria.

The presidential vacuum is the longest since the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1990.

“Speaker of the House Nabih Berri postponed on Wednesday the presidential election session to April 2 due to lack of quorum,” his office said.

Only 55 of the parliament’s 128 members were present, less than the required two-thirds quorum.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since Michel Sleiman’s term expired on May 25, 2014.

The position is largely ceremonial and presidential powers have been significantly reduced in recent years.

In the absence of a head of state, executive powers fall to the government, led by Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

Lebanon’s political factions are split between supporters and opponents of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, causing a stalemate over the choice of president.

Although several candidates have been announced, Lebanon’s parties have insisted on reaching a consensus on the candidate, which they have yet to do.

As part of Lebanon’s multi-confessional system of government, the presidency is traditionally held by a Maronite Christian, while the prime minister is Sunni Muslim and the speaker is Shiite.