March 14 MPs plan to show up for unlikely vote on presidency

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March 14 MPs plan to show up for unlikely vote on presidency

Post by Admin on Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:21 pm

MPs
from the ruling March 14 coalition said late Monday that since Speaker
Nabih Berri had not officially postponed Tuesday's scheduled session to
elect a new president of Lebanon, they would go to the House in hopes
of doing so. The postponement would be the 18th since September 2007
and the presidential seat has been vacant since November 2007 when
Emile Lahoud left office after the end of his term.


Berri
reiterated in remarks published in As-Safir newspaper on Monday that
dialogue was the only way to achieve a presidential election.


The
speaker had recently proposed resuming national dialogue sessions
between all political parties and said that his renewed offer was aimed
rescuing the Arab League initiative after it had reached a deadlock.


The
Arab plan stipulates electing the commander of the Lebanese Ared
Forces, General Michel Suleiman, as president, forming a national unity
government and adopting a new electoral law. However, the proposal
failed to materialize after weeks of negotiations.


"What have they got to lose if they sat around the dialogue table?" Berri asked.

He
blamed the failure of the Arab initiative on the March 14 Forces'
determination to retain the 2000 electoral law. "The insistence by some
on the 2000 election law is blocking dialogue," he said. "Let it be
known that this law is not acceptable."


Berri
said March 14 members were resisting dialogue because they fear the
discussions would include the electoral law, "and, thus, their real
stances will be exposed."


The
speaker's comments came as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
tries to arrange an international meeting to discuss the Lebanese
crisis on the sidelines of a Kuwaiti-hosted conference of Iraq's
neighbors and other powers to discuss the security situation the
wartorn country.


Kouchner
said the meeting, at which Lebanon will be represented by acting
Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri and senior government adviser Mohammad
Shattah, is aimed at reviving the Lebanese dialogue.


But the ministerial-level meeting is expected to call for the immediate election of a new president to replace Lahoud.

US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is attending the Kuwait
meeting, reiterated her country's support for the government of Prime
Minister Faoud Siniora at a news conference in Manama, Bahrain.


The
crisis pits the Beirut government, which is close to Saudi Arabia and
the United States, against an opposition dominated by Hizbullah, which
is backed by Syria and Iran.

The
main point of dispute is the opposition demand for effective veto power
in cabinet. The ruling coalition has rejected the demand.


Syria
pledged during the Arab League summit it hosted last month to cooperate
on ending the crisis but made it clear that it would not push its
allies in Lebanon to allow the election of a new president unless their
demands are met.


Syrian
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem will attend the Kuwait meeting but
may not be invited to attend the Lebanon get-together, Lebanese
political sources said.


As
a solution to the Lebanese crisis seems to be still out of reach, US
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch
warned on Monday that Beirut might headed toward a "hot summer."


"I
fear that the Lebanese might face a hot summer, similar to the summer
of 2006," which saw the devastating war with Israel, Welch said during
a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday.


He added that the best solution for Lebanon should come from the Lebanese themselves.

Welch also denied any US intentions to resort to military force against Iran over that country's nuclear program.
"We
are supporting interna-tional efforts to impose economic sanctions on
Iran and to isolate it in order to press on it to change its ways," he
said.


"However, the option of a military attack on Iran is still open to any president who comes to the White House," Welch added.

Also
on Monday, Saudi Arabia urged feuding factions in Lebanon to pledge
allegiance to their own country and to resist attempts to make them
prey to foreign influence.


"The
kingdom ... calls upon all the Lebanese to work to form one Lebanese
front that would owe allegiance to no one except Lebanon," the
government said in a statement after its weekly meeting chaired by King
Abdullah.

Such
a united front "would have the ability to overcome ... new hegemonic
attempts that the country is facing," said the statement carried by the
official Saudi Press Agency.


The statement added that such attempts "are aimed at making Lebanon a link in a chain of a regional clout."
All
of the countries backing rival parties in Lebanon routinely accuse one
another, directly or indirectly, of interference in the country's
domestic political affairs.


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