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Lebanon officially enters presidential vacuum
May 24, 2014 17:20

Outgoing Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said on Saturday that dialogue was the only way to overcome deep divisions in the country, which is struggling to cope with political and security spillover from Syria's civil war.

Suleiman made his remarks during his farewell speech hours before his six-year term ends and two days after parliament failed for the fifth time to choose a successor. The impasse highlights the stark political divisions in the country.

With his departure, Lebanon enters a presidential vacancy with no clear sign when it will end.

"We overcame difficult circumstances, (hence) my call for sustained dialogue which is the only guarantor for solving dilemmas," he told the audience, which included former Lebanese presidents and prime ministers.

Suleiman's powers will pass to Prime Minister Tammam Salam's government, which is also supposed to prepare for a parliamentary election later this year.

Suleiman also reiterated his call for the powerful Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah to pull its fighters out of Syria to preserve national unity.

"(Preserving) our national unity is the priority and forces us not to interfere in the issues of the neighbor no matter how dear the neighbor is," he said.

"It actually (forces) us to pull out without any hesitation from anything that could divide our ranks."

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