Lebanon's parliament has so far been unable to agree on a successor in the role, which has the power to sign bills into law, appoint new prime ministers and green-light government formations.
Michel Aoun, the 89-year-old president whose term in office saw Lebanon's financial meltdown and the deadly Beirut port blast, has vacated the presidential palace.
Before Sunday's departure, in his final week in the palace, he signed onto a US-mediated deal delineating Lebanon's southern maritime border with Israel.
Lebanon's parliament has so far been unable to agree on a successor in the role, which has the power to sign bills into law, appoint new prime ministers and green-light government formations before they are voted on by parliament.
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Like during more than half of Aoun's time in office, Lebanon is currently governed by a caretaker cabinet as the premier-designate has been trying for six months to form a government.
Aoun is a divisive figure, adored by many Christians who viewed him as their defender in Lebanon's sectarian system but accused by critics of enabling corruption.
He secured the presidency in 2016, endorsed by both Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah and rival Maronite Christian politician Samir Geagea in a deal that brought then-leading Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri back as prime minister.
The six-year term that followed saw Lebanon's army clashing with fighters on the Syrian border in 2017 with Hezbollah’s help, a new electoral law passed in 2018 and top energy companies begin exploratory drilling in offshore blocks in 2020.
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The 2019 financial meltdown pushed more than 80 percent of the population into poverty and prompted the most widespread anti-government protests in recent history.
Aoun's term was also linked to the 2020 blast at the Beirut port, which left more than 220 people dead.
Rise to presidency
The son of a farmer from a Beirut suburb, Aoun's path to the presidency began in the 1975-1990 civil war, during which he served as commander of Lebanon's army and the head of one of two rival governments.
He returned to Beirut after 15 years in exile, once Syrian forces withdrew under international pressure following the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik al Hariri.
In 2006, his Free Patriotic Movement formed an alliance with Hezbollah, which lent important Christian backing to the group.
In his interview with Reuters, Aoun credited Hezbollah for its "useful" role in acting as a “deterrent” against any Israeli attacks during the maritime border talks.
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