Downtown Beirut sealed off as parliament prepares to elect president

September 25, 2007 07:52

Police and army troops sealed off downtown Beirut Tuesday as the parliament tried to meet to elect a new head of state, a vote shadowed by the assassination of a lawmaker and expected to be blocked by the Hizbullah-led opposition. The security dragnet by several thousand soldiers and policemen was aimed at allowing anti-Syrian lawmakers from the parliamentary majority to move safely from a nearby heavily guarded hotel where they had taken refuge fearing assassination. Fears of an attack were high after the slaying Thursday of pro-government lawmaker Antoine Ghanem. It fueled accusations by government supporters that Syria was targeting members of the ruling coalition, a claim denied by Damascus.

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