09/20/2007, 00.00
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UN condemns Ghanem assassination and asks for presidential elections

The killing of the Maronite deputy set to block the election process, Unanimous condemnation from the EU, Arab Emirates, Russia and the USA. Syria denies all involvement.

New York (AsiaNews) – The Security Council has condemned the terrorist attack that Lebanon, killing Anti-Syrian Christian lawmaker Antoine Ghanem and several others. The attack occurred in the Christian suburb east of Beirut, Sin-El-Fil, just as the Council met in New York to hear the report of Chief UN legal advisor Nicholas Michel, on the process to bring to justice the assassins of the Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, killed in February 2005. Since then there have been six political assassinations, all targeting anti-Syrian lawmakers.

The murder comes just days before the nation’s presidential elections, who will be elected September 25th by the Lebanese parliament, currently divided along the lines of the Christian, Druze and Sunni anti-Syrian majority and the opposition which aims to block the process (with Syria’s aid).

French native Jean-Maurice Ripert, president of the Security Council, noted that the attack aims to derail the election process: “We think it – he said - is very important that the electoral process go on smoothly in Lebanon, and that in conformity with the constitution of Lebanon, there will be a new president on the 24th of November the latest”. “You know – he added - what role the Lebanese Parliament plays obviously in this election. It is clear that an attack that targets a Member of Parliament is not neutral in this regard, and we can but condemn it strongly as a new proof of some people's willingness to destabilize and perhaps prevent this (electoral) process to go all the way”.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked the UN secretary general to open an international inquiry into yesterday’s attack.

Beyond the Security Council strong condemnation was voiced by the European Union, the Arab Emirates, Russia and the United States.

For its part Syria has denied all involvement, and described the bomb as a “criminal act” which aims to undermine efforts to bring Lebanon and Syria closer together.


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