Michel Aoun becomes Lebanon's president

The Lebanese parliament elected former army commander Michel Aoun as president, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum in a political deal that secured victory for his Lebanese Shi'ite ally Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Lebanon's 29-month presidential vacuum is over.

Former army commander Michel Aoun, who was once driven into exile by Syrian forces, arrived at the presidential palace as the country's new head of state.

The polarising Christian politician and ally to Hizbollah had no real challengers for the position.

The only other official candidate was also a Hizbollah ally, and had asked his supporters to cast blank ballots.

Hundreds of residents, mostly supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement that Mr Aoun founded, celebrated in Beirut as night fell.

"Thank you General Aoun. We love you. We believe in you," said Lebanese student Amjad Hassan.

Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri, an opponent of Hizbollah and its allies, is set to be named prime minister.