The president 's chair is seen empty in Baabda, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Tuesday marks the start of the two-month constitutional period for the 13th presidential election since Lebanon's independence in 1943, a crucial time that is likely to see the country divided along the usual political lines.Lebanon has witnessed two presidential vacuums since 1943, most recently for about five months before the election of Sleiman in May 2008 .Karim Pakradouni, a former head of the Kataeb Party and adviser to the late President Elias Sarkis, pointed out that historically there were local and regional factors that determined who would become the president of Lebanon.Gemayel was killed before he could be officially sworn in by Parliament, meaning that Lebanon has had 12 elections, but only 11 presidents have been officially sworn in.As for external factors, Pakradouni, also a former minister, highlighted the role of the U.S. and Egypt in deciding who ruled Lebanon during the reign of late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser (1956-70). Pakradouni said that both the U.S. and Iran supported holding presidential election on time.Pakradouni added that Iran was also interested in seeing a new president in Lebanon, since Hezbollah, its major ally in the country, wanted this as well.Despite clear international and regional support for a new president in Lebanon, Pakradouni said it was uncertain which potential candidates were most likely to be successful.
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