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In an unexpected rare display of consensus among the country's major political parties, Gen. Michel Aoun was elected as Lebanon's 13th president on Oct. 31, ending a 29-month presidential void that had paralyzed state institutions and thrown the executive and legislative branches of power into disarray.The election of Aoun as president, which gained swift and strong regional and international backing, was coupled three days later by the prompt appointment of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to form a new Cabinet to replace a government described by its head, former Prime Minister Tammam Salam, as "a corrupt and failed government". Hariri, who had served as prime minister from November 2009 to January 2011, was praised for beating a record in setting up a 30-member national accord government in a relatively short time – one month and a half – compared to the more than 10 months it took Salam to form a 24-member Cabinet of "national interest". Both Hariri and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah have struck an upbeat note about the country's future following the election of Aoun as president.The quick Cabinet formation was followed up by another rapid positive development: A seven-member ministerial committee tasked with drafting the government's policy statement managed in just two sessions last week to reach agreement on the political blueprint on whose basis the government will seek a vote of confidence, overriding enduring differences over the sensitive issue of Hezbollah's arms and its deep involvement in the nearly 6-year-old war in Syria.Aoun has said he will visit Saudi Arabia.
Protests erupt over taxes as govt races to wrap up budget
Berri, Hariri seek to iron out budget snags
to visit Syria deepens
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