Hezbollah ally elected Lebanon’s new leader
BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s parliament elected former army commander Michel Aoun as president on Monday, filling a post that had been vacant for more than two years and injecting hope that the country’s long-running political paralysis would come to an end.
But the 81-year-old retired general who presided over the final bloody chapters of the Lebanese civil war and is a strong Hezbollah ally has an unenviable task ahead — forming a government out of the country’s unruly political factions and dealing with an array of problems that includes what to do with more than 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled the war in neighboring Syria.
Aoun, a Maronite Christian, enjoys a wide base of support among Lebanon’s educated Christians, but is a deeply divisive figure for his role in the 1975-90 civil war and for his shifting alliances, especially with Hezbollah, the country’s most powerful military and political force. His election was seen by many as a clear victory for the pro-Iranian axis in the Middle East.