By Bassem Mroue
Beirut — Lebanon’s parliament on Monday (click here) elected Michel Aoun, an 81-year-old former army commander and strong ally of the militant group Hezbollah, as the country’s president, ending a more than two-year vacuum in the top post and a political crisis that brought state institutions perilously close to collapse.
Aoun secured a simple majority of votes in the house after a chaotic session that saw several rounds of voting because extra ballots appeared in the ballot box each time. He garnered 83 votes out of 127 lawmakers present at the session.
He also failed to get elected by a two thirds majority in the first round, as had been widely expected.
Members of parliament broke out in thunderous applause after Aoun finally was declared president by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. His supporters across the country erupted in cheers as they watched the proceedings on huge screens set up in the streets. Brief celebratory gunfire could also be heard in the capital....