No winner in first round of Lebanese presidential vote

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The Lebanese parliament has failed to elect a new president after the first round of voting. The leading candidate, Samir Geagea, failed to get the required two-thirds of the vote.

The Lebanese constitution requires that the president be a Maronite Christian, but Geagea fell well short of the mark. Sunni Muslims get the prime minister’s office, and Shi’ites the parliamentary speaker.

Geagea’s defeat opens up the field to a new crop of candidates, although it is possible that it will take several months for a winner to emerge.

He had hoped to take over from President  Michel Suleiman, whose six-year term concludes at the end of May, but Geagea’s failure had been widely predicted. He won 48 votes from the anti-Assad bloc, while 52 blank votes were cast on behalf of the Hezbollah-dominated bloc, which is pro-Syrian.

A second round of voting will be held next Wednesday.

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