12/06/2007, 00.00
LEBANON
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Beirut braces itself for the seventh postponement of presidential elections

Majority and opposition could agree on Sleiman. The French minister of foreign affairs tries to smooth over the differences related to amending the Constitution, which refers to the composition and power of the future government.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon has braced itself for the seventh postponement of the Republic’s presidential elections. And at this point, it seems fairly unlikely that by the end of the day the majority and opposition parties will be able to decide on a candidate. “See you later”, is all that Bernard Kouchner, France’s minister of foreign affairs, had to say to the press this morning at the conclusion of a meeting between the head of the majority party, Sadd Hariri, and the Parliament president and head of the Shiite opposition Amal, Nabih Berri. Kouchner is attempting to mediate the negotiations.
 
According to rumours, the name of the future head of state has been agreed upon, military leader General Michel Sleiman.  The key obstacle, however, has been the failure to agree upon the mechanism to amend Article 49 of the Constitution. The opposition considers the Prime Minister’s government illegitimate, while the ruling majority insists that the cabinet will not resign.
 
The conflicting issues were, in reality, pre-conditions posed by the opposition: the formation of a national unity government after elections and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s resignation; a consensus on the election and the constitutional amendment mechanism needed for that; the holding of parliamentary elections on schedule in the summer of 2009 in line with a new and fair election law.
 
Maronite Bishops yesterday highlighted the dramatic nature of a country without a president and asked that there be no pre-conditions to the elections.
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