President Michel Aoun left Lebanon's presidential palace Sunday at the end of his six-year term without a replacement, leaving the country in a political vacuum that is likely to worsen its historic economic meltdown, The Associated Press reported.
As Aoun’s term ends, the country is being run by a caretaker government after Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati failed to form a new Cabinet following parliamentary elections last May. Aoun and his supporters have warned that such a government doesn't have full power to run the country, saying that weeks of “constitutional chaos” lay ahead.
In a speech outside the palace as he left office, Aoun told thousands of supporters that he has accepted the resignation of Mikati's government. The move is likely to further deprive the caretaker administration of legitimacy and worsen existing political tensions in the country.
Aoun, an 87-year-old Maronite Christian and former army commander, said, “I leave a country that is robbed,” adding that all Lebanese were hurt by losing their life savings in local banks. He added that some politicians prevented the investigation into the 2020 Beirut port blast.
Aoun was elected in 2016 after a more than two-year vacuum. He was supported by Hezbollah, which has a strong presence in the Lebanese parliament, but was only elected after he received the backing of the bloc of his main rivals of the Christian Lebanese Forces Party as well as the bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
The outgoing President’s biggest achievement came last week when he signed the US-mediated maritime border agreement with Israel
Praising the agreement earlier this month, Aoun said, “This indirect agreement responds to Lebanese demands and maintains all our rights.”
In his remarks, Aoun also thanked Hezbollah and said, "A double thank you to you, Lebanese men and women, because through your steadfastness, your stability, your resistance proved to be a factor of strength for Lebanon - you contributed to the strengthening of the Lebanese position in the negotiations and the conflict, and you accomplished this achievement for you and for future generations."