Wanted: A President

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A group of Lebanese lawmakers staged a sit-in at the country’s parliament this month in an effort to protest Lebanon’s long-running political deadlock and urge other legislators to act amid the country’s deep economic woes, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Since last week, legislators Najat Saliba and Melhem Khalaf have been camping out in the parliamentary building in the capital of Beirut. The lawmakers have been beseeching their fellow parliamentarians to join them and elect a new president.

The sit-in comes after parliament failed to elect a new president following the exit of President Michel Aoun, whose term expired at the end of October. Many Lebanese fear that the post could remain vacant indefinitely, further worsening the crisis in the Middle Eastern country.

Lebanon has been grappling with power cuts, a spiraling financial crisis and protests since 2019 when tens of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets to protest economic problems and endemic corruption in the country.

The Lebanese pound is in freefall, reaching a new record low on Wednesday of 57,000 pounds to the US dollar, down 35 percent since Jan. 1. Before the crisis, it was exchanged at 1,507 pounds to the dollar.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme estimates that 46 percent of Lebanese households are struggling to fulfill their basic food needs.

Saliba said that 31 of their colleagues have visited her and Khalaf to show their support, but cautioned that they need more lawmakers to start voting for a president.

The parliamentarian said that the constitution allows lawmakers to gather at any moment to vote, without waiting for a call by the speaker of the parliament.

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