Lebanon's parliament once again announced here Friday a
postponement of its session to elect a new president scheduled on
Saturday till Jan. 12, 2008.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri made the announcement in a
statement, which is the 11th postponement of the presidential
election since Sept. 25.
"The situation now is no longer similar to that between Sept. 25
and Nov. 22," which was the regular election term of the
parliament, said the statement, adding in this case, article 74 of
the Lebanese constitution should be applied.
According to the article, in case the presidency became vacant,
the parliament can meet to elect a new president.
The Friday postponement came as the Syrian-backed opposition and
the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority bloc remain deadlocked over
an amendment to the constitution and the shape of a future
The cabinet of Prime Minister Fouad Seniora had been insisting
on meeting Friday afternoon to sign a document that should be
signed by the president in spite of the strong objections by the
Berri, who is a main leader of the opposition, stressed in the
statement that there is no need for the current unconstitutional
and illegal government to amend the constitution.
The parliament was set to convene on Saturday for electing a new
president to fill the vacant post since former President Emile
Lahoud step down on Nov. 24.
But local media have predicted that the session might not be
able to convene as leaders from rival majority and opposition blocs
have failed to clinch a deal on the election.
Both the majority and the opposition on Friday also separately
issued their statements hinting that the presidential elections
session will not take place Saturday.
"It is not likely to have a session tomorrow; it is impossible
to have a session amid current political circumstances," local
daily As Safir quoted Armed Forces' MP Antoine Zahra from the
majority bloc as saying.
Ali Khoraise, a lawmaker from the opposition, also predicted
that "there is very small hope to hold a session on Saturday" and
Speaker Berri is the only person who has the prerogative to
postpone parliamentary sessions.
The two camps have agreed in principle on Army Commander Gen.
Michel Suleiman as a sole compromise candidate for the presidency,
following a series of Arab and European mediations.
But they are still divided on how to amend the constitution to
allow for his election, as well as on the shape and policies of the
According to Lebanon's constitution, a senior public servant has
to stand down from his post two years ahead of running for the
Lebanese ruling coalition and the opposition have been separated
by a wide chasm since six of the latter's ministers resigned from
Premier Fouad Seniora's government last November.
Since then, the opposition does not acknowledge the legality of
the government which does not include Shiite ministers, claiming
violates the constitution demand of "coexistence among Lebanese
The majority, on the other hand, are accusing Syria and its
allies in Lebanon of hindering the election of a president.
(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2007)