Anticipation, tight security in Lebanon ahead of presidential election

Lebanese flags and pictures of army chief Michel Suleiman adorned Beirut's streets Sunday as parliament prepared to elect the consensus candidate as president - a key step toward reconciling Lebanese factions after a long political crisis that has brought the country to the brink of all-out civil war. Hundreds of policemen and army troops sealed off the capital's downtown area where lawmakers are scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) to vote for the compromise choice of both the majority and opposition. The vote has been postponed 19 times since November, when President Emile Lahoud stepped down without a successor. It comes after a deal brokered by Qatar after five days of talks there between Lebanon's Western-backed government and the Hizbullah-led opposition.