Lebanon’s president election might face another postponement

March 24th, 2008 - 6:58 am ICT by admin  

Beirut, March 24 (DPA) Lebanon’s House Speaker Nabih Berri has hinted that the parliament session scheduled for March 25 to elect a president might be postponed for the 17th consecutive time.

“There is nothing new to avoid a new postponement of the session Tuesday, but we will exert every effort between now and Tuesday,” Berri said during a talk show on the Lebanese television station New TV late Sunday.

Lebanon is now in its fifth month without a president. The chairman of the parliament has postponed the election date for sixteen times.

In Lebanon, the parliament, which is made up of 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 Prime Minister Fouad Seniora Nov 26, 2006.

The prime minister has refused to acknowledge calls by the opposition to resign and has declared that he will do so only when a new president is elected. With both the opposition and the government being supported by opposing regional and international powers, no solution seems possible until these powers agree to a solution or compromise.

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

Political bickering between different parties has reached dangerous levels to the extent that there is a genuine fear of civil strife - especially since street fights are breaking out every now and then between supporters of various groups.

On Friday, Berri reiterated that he would not call the House to convene in regular session as long as Seniora’s government remains in office. “The absence of any legitimate executive authority prevents the convening of parliament in a lawmaking capacity,” a statement issued by Berri’s media office said.

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