Aoun Supporters Flock to Baabda on 'People's Palace' Day
Supporters of President Michel Aoun were on Sunday flocking to the presidential palace in Baabda from all Lebanese regions to extend congratulations to the newly-elected president in scenes reminiscing the 1988-1990 era when Aoun was in the palace as the head of a military government.
The crowds were exclusively carrying Lebanese flags at Aoun's request. State-run National News Agency said security forces confiscated a number of partisan flags near the palace at the request of the organizing committee and in line with Aoun's wish.
Aoun was expected to address the crowds from the palace's balcony and five long-time comrades were supposed to be standing next to him.
NNA identified the five figures as Maj. Gen. Edgar Maalouf, an incumbent MP and a member of Aoun's then military government, Maj. Gen. Nadim Lteif who was General Security chief under Aoun, Brig. Gen. Michel Abou Rizk who was Aoun's head of Presidential Guard, Capt. Habib Fares who was a bodyguard of Aoun, and Dr. Pierre Raffoul, an incumbent Free Patriotic Movement official who was in charge of organizing popular demonstrations during Aoun's tenure as prime minister.
Aoun was elected president on Monday after he received key support for his presidential bid from al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri, which ended two and a half years of presidential vacuum.
Analysts have warned that Aoun's election will not be a "magic wand" for Lebanon, which has seen longstanding political divisions exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria and has struggled to deal with an influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.
In addition to pledges of economic growth and security, Aoun said in his oath of office that Lebanon must work to ensure Syrian refugees "can return quickly" to their country.
Aoun also pledged to endorse an "independent foreign policy" and to protect Lebanon from "the fires burning across the region."