Thousands of Lebanese Rally for Aoun

Thousands of Lebanese Rally for AounThousands of Lebanese Rally for Aoun

Thousands of Lebanese rallied near the presidential palace on Sunday in a show of support for Christian politician Michel Aoun, pressing their demand for him to fill the vacant presidency.

Waving the orange flag of Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, they packed streets in the Baabda district that houses the headquarters of the presidency vacant for over a year due to political conflict, Reuters reported.

The presidency is set aside for a Maronite Christian but has been vacant due to a political crisis stoked by regional conflicts including the war in neighboring Syria.

The rally was called to mark events in October 1990, near the end of the Lebanese civil war, when the Syrian Army captured Baabda. Aoun, head of one of two rival administrations at the time, was forced out of the presidential palace and later into exile.

Aoun, an ally of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, would like the presidency, but does not have the backing of a rival alliance led by politician Saad al-Hariri.

That alliance includes prominent Christian rivals to Aoun, notably his civil war enemy Samir Geagea, who also seeks the presidency.

Aoun, arguing that Christians are being politically marginalized, has said the president should be elected in a popular vote if parliament cannot agree.