Lebanese presidential vote postponed until January 21

Arab League Secretary-General says some progress has been made in talks with rival Lebanese factions.

Amr Moussa 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Amr Moussa 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Friday postponed a session to elect Lebanon's next president until January 21 - the 12th such delay since the sharply divided legislature first tried to select a new head of state. The announcement came after Berri met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who has been holding talks with rival Lebanese factions since Wednesday on an Arab plan calling for the election of army commander, Gen. Michel Suleiman, as president, the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new electoral law. The plan was unanimously adopted by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo last Saturday. "Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri decided to postpone the session that was scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) ... to elect a new president until January 21 at 12 noon," said a statement released by the parliament's secretariat general. Speaking to reporters after meeting right wing pro-government Christian leader, Samir Geagea, Moussa said "we resumed our work two days ago and Lebanon's problem is heavy and needs time." Asked if he removed some of the obstacles, Moussa said "I did not spend all this time without making progress, on the contrary, there is no final agreement but some points ... are being discussed." Moussa refused to go into details or say whether he is going to leave Saturday. Though the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority and the Syrian-backed opposition, led by Hezbollah, have backed Suleiman, they remain deadlocked over an amendment to Lebanon's constitution that would allow the head of the military to become president. They also have not been able to agree on the future of the government, with the opposition demanding that it receive veto power over major issues. The country has not had a president since former President Emile Lahoud's term ended in November.