Lebanon's presidential election likely to be postponed

Parliamentary deputies say postponement aimed at allowing space for politicians and mediation initiatives to bear fruit.

October 21, 2007 04:27
1 minute read.
Lebanon's presidential election likely to be postponed

lahoud 88. (photo credit: )

Lebanon's presidential election scheduled for Tuesday will most likely be postponed to give room for the rival Lebanese factions to agree on a compromise, parliamentary deputies said late Saturday. Three parliamentarians from the two rival camps, all speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation and in the absence of a formal announcement, said the postponement was aimed at allowing space for politicians and mediation initiatives to bear fruit. The parliament was set to meet Tuesday to try again to choose a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, who steps down Nov. 24, after an opposition boycott prevented an election during the Sept. 25 session. Many politicians from the two rival camps, however, expressed doubts that a new president could be elected by then in the absence of an agreement on a consensus candidate by the deadlocked pro-government and opposition factions. The postponement decision, which has yet to be formally announced by the parliament speaker, came after the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain traveled to Beirut and gathered leaders of both camps at the French ambassador's Beirut residence to urge them to agree on a candidate and stave off certain political chaos. Just going ahead with a session without that consensus, the fear was, would risk a repetition of the earlier meeting and could further inflame political tensions in the country. There are fears that if the deadlock persists, the country could end up with two rival governments, like what happened in the final two years of the country's 1975-1990 civil war. Such a scenario could affect the mission of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. France, Italy and Spain are the largest contributors to the UN force and their foreign ministers traveled to Lebanon on Saturday to support the peacekeepers and urge the Lebanese to compromise. Their visit came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity by foreign officials in Lebanon, reflecting mounting concerns that the failure to elect a president could lead to a power vacuum, or the creation of rival governments which would threaten the mission of UN peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon.

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