Lebanese presidential elections postponed again

March 25th, 2008 - 3:30 am ICT by admin  

Beirut, March 25 (DPA) Lebanon’s parliament speaker Nabih Berri has postponed the country’s presidential elections to April 22, after rival parties failed to reached a compromise. “Parliament speaker Nabih Berri has decided to postpone the session to April 22 at noon (0900 GMT),” his spokesman Ali Hamdan said Monday.

It is the 17th time that the elections have been postponed.

The latest postponement means that Lebanon will not be represented at the Arab summit from March 29 to 30 in Damascus by a president.

Arab divisions over Lebanon have already undermined the meeting and Saudi Arabia announced earlier Monday that it would send a low-level delegation to the annual summit.

Lebanon’s Information Minister Ghazi Aridi feared that failure to elect a president before the summit means “that Lebanon will witness possible security breaches when the summit is over”.

“We expect the political tension to increase after the summit and that the killers will be back on the street assassinating new leaders,” Aridi said.

Lebanon has been hit by deadly assassinations targeting mainly anti-Syrian figures since 2005.

The Lebanese parliament, which has 128, elected representatives meets to elect the president of the republic.

Lebanon’s political scene has been divided into two camps since 2006 - the opposition led by the Hezbollah militant movement, which is supported by Iran and Syria, and the majority, which is backed by the West and most Arab countries. The division started when six pro-Syrian ministers resigned from the government of Premier Fouad Seniora Nov 26, 2006.

The prime minister has refused to acknowledge calls by the opposition to resign and has vowed to do so only when a new president has been elected. As both the opposition and the government are supported by opposing regional and international powers, no solution is likely until they reach a solution or compromise.

Lebanon is gripped by its worst internal crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war with rival political factions unable to elect a successor to president Emile Lahoud who stepped down at the end of his term in office in November 2007.

Political bickering between various parties has reached dangerous levels and there is a genuine fear of civil strife - as fights break out between supporters of various groups every so often on the streets.

Berri said Sunday that he would invite rival Lebanese leaders for talks next month, if the Arab summit in Damascus failed to find a solution to Lebanon’s ongoing political crisis.

Lebanon’s cabinet is expected to meet in the coming two days to decide on participation in the Arab summit.

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