The new President of Lebanon, Mr. Elias Sarkis, took up his new position as head-of-state?
The new President of Lebanon, Mr. Elias Sarkis, took up his new position as head-of-state on Thursday (23 September). He faces the difficult problem of resolving the conflicts and divisions of the civil war which has left at least 40,000 people dead, and which has effectively divided the country into two. On Wednesday (22 September) the former President, Suleiman Franjieh, spent his last day of office at his temporary home.
SYNOPSIS: The old presidential palace had been his home for almost six years, and despite the fighting, President franjieh and stubbornly refused to relinquish power until this week. On Wednesday he was in a cheerful mood when he received a visit from Patriarch Hakim, a prominent leader of the Christian Church in Lebanon. who called to pay his respects.
The next day President Franjieh went to the temporary Presidential Palace at Zouq Mkayel in the right-wing stronghold of Jounieh, to hand over power to the new President, Elias Sarkis. Left-wing newspapers had already expressed relief about the end of Mr. Franjieh's reign, and a pro-Libyan paper had declared "The area of blood and destruction has ended".
Mr. Franjieh had made Zouq Mkayel's town hall the temporary seat of the Presidency after being driven out of the Presidential Palace by left-wing mortar attacks. Mr. Franjieh left the town hall after the ceremony to considerable applause from the crowd gathered outside. The new President, Mr. Sarkis, is the Governor of Lebanon's Central Bank.
Mr. Sarkis left later, and was driven to the eastern Lebanese town of Shtoura, where he was to take the oath of office in a ceremony, which was already threatened with a boycott by left-wing and other Members of Parliament. The left-wingers were angry at Mr. Sarkis taking office under Syrian patronage, as the Syrians control most of the country.