Lawmakers gather in parliament in Beirut on October 13, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Thursday failed for a second time to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun, with some lawmakers boycotting the vote meaning the quorum was not reached.

Only 71 out of 128 lawmakers attended Thursday’s session.

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri called for another vote on October 20, to take place before Aoun’s term finishes at the end of the month.

Lebanon, grappling with its worst-ever financial crisis, is also in the throes of a political paralysis that has hampered attempts to form a new government, since the outgoing cabinet’s mandate expired in May.

With no clear candidate to replace Aoun, the process to name a new president could also be extended - although Lebanon can ill afford any delay.

A first voting round last month saw lawmaker Michel Moawad emerge as a frontrunner in the presidential race, but he fell far below the number of votes needed.

A lawmaker with the powerful Hezbollah movement dismissed Moawad’s bid.

“It will not lead to any results,” Hasan Fadlallah told reporters.

“A challenge candidate will lead to more delays,” he said, calling for further consultations.

Since the start of Lebanon’s financial crisis in 2019, the currency has lost more than 95 percent of its value and poverty rates have climbed to cover most of the population.

Aoun was elected in 2016, after a more than two-year presidential vacancy. He was chosen after lawmakers tried 45 times to reach a consensus on a candidate.