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February 06
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Lebanon could slide into constitutional chaos, outgoing Lebanese President Michel Aoun told Reuters this, noting the lack of contenders for his and the fact that the cabinet is acting as a caretaker.

Aoun is set to leave the presidential palace on Sunday, a day before his six-year term expires, but four sessions of a divided national parliament have failed to reach a consensus on a candidate to replace him.

While Lebanon has faced a long presidential vacuum in the past, the country now finds itself on the brink of an unprecedented situation with a vacant presidency and an interim cabinet with limited powers.

According to Aoun, a political move to resolve the constitutional crisis is still possible, but "there is no final decision" about what that might mean.

His son-in-law Jebran Bassil, who was put on the U.S. sanctions list in 2020 for alleged corruption, has presidential ambitions.

Aoun said Saturday that sanctions will not prevent Bassil from eventually becoming a presidential candidate. "Once he is elected (president), the sanctions will be lifted," Aoun said, without going into detail.

In his final week in office, Aoun signed a U.S.-brokered agreement to delineate Lebanon's southern maritime border with Israel, a modest diplomatic breakthrough that will allow both countries to extract natural gas from offshore fields.

He noted that the deal helped "open eyes" and may be Lebanon's "last chance" to recover from a three-year financial meltdown that has cost the currency 95% of its value and plunged 80% of the population into poverty.

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