Middle East

Lebanese Druze leader says most of his bloc supports Aoun for president

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said on Friday that most members of his political bloc, the Democratic Gathering, would support Christian leader Michel Aoun to become president of Lebanon next week.

The announcement added to already considerable support for Aoun, who most analysts expect to expect to win Monday's vote in parliament and end Lebanon's two-and-a-half year wait for a president.

The top post has been empty during a period of political in-fighting that has raised concerns for the country's stability and resulted in a breakdown in many basic services.

Jumblatt said the bloc – which controls 11 of parliament's 128 seats – would hold a final meeting on the issue on Saturday.

But most members backed Aoun. "This (support) will be translated in a practical way on Monday afternoon," he added.

Aoun, in his 80s, is unlikely to secure the two-thirds majority needed to win the first-round vote on Monday.

But most analysts expect him to secure the simple majority needed to win a second vote to be held the same day.

The Lebanese presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian in the country's sectarian power-sharing arrangement and has been empty since Michel Suleiman's term ended in May, 2014.

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