From the expiration of the term of president Michel Suleiman in May 2014, until present, parliament has been unable to obtain the majority required to elect a president, and the office has been vacant, despite more than 30 votes being held. In response to the deadlock, Michel Aoun has suggested amending the constitution to make the presidency popularly elected. Under the proposal, Lebanese Christians would choose two candidates who would run in a national election in which all voters were eligible to participate.
The constitution requires the president hold the same qualifications as a member of Parliament (also called the Chamber of Deputies), which are Lebanese citizenship and attainment of the age of twenty-one.
Though not specifically stated in the constitution, an understanding known as the National Pact, agreed in 1943, customarily limits the office to members of the Maronite Christian faith. This is based on a gentlemen’s agreement between Lebanon’s Maronite Christian President Bechara El Khoury and his Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Riad Al Solh, which was reached in 1943, when Lebanon became independent of France, and described that the President of the Republic was to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.
Article 50 of the constitution of Lebanon requires the president to take an oath upon assuming office, which is prescribed thus:
“ I swear by Almighty God to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Lebanese Nation and to maintain the independence of Lebanon and its territorial integrity. ”
As described in the constitution, the president is commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces and security forces; may appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet; promulgates laws passed by Parliament; may also veto bills; and may dissolve Parliament. In practice, however, Lebanon being a parliamentary republic, the president is essentially the repository of reserve powers and the office is largely symbolic.
The presidential palace is the Baabda Palace, located southeast of Beirut.