A country in mourning looks to the future with anxiety
On the day Antoine Ghanem is laid to rest, the Lebanese government calls on the United Nations and the Arab League to protect the upcoming presidential election. Saad Hariri and Nabih Berri talk on the phone.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – In a city where stores, offices and schools were shut down by a day of national mourning, Antoine Ghanem, a Christian lawmaker killed on Wednesday, was laid to rest today.

In a statement the United Nations Security Council reiterated “its condemnation of all targeted assassinations of Lebanese leaders [. . .] and demands an immediate end of the use of intimidation and violence against the representatives of the Lebanese people and institutions.”

Furthermore, the Council stressed that any attempt to destabilize Lebanon should not impede or subvert its constitutional process; “the holding of a free and fair presidential election in conformity with Lebanese constitutional norms” should in other words go ahead as scheduled on September 25.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora also called on the United Nations and the Arab League to protect the presidential ballot.

Choosing a new president is the hard bone of contention dividing the country. Foreign observers have stressed the future of the country and more is at stake.

If the current pro-Western parliamentary majority elected its candidate it could implement UN resolutions, which call for, among other things, the disarmament of Hizbollah and a trial by an international court of those politicians involved in recent political assassinations, starting with that of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The trial might thus bring to light the involvement of Syrian officials and could have unpredictable consequences.

All that would come to nought if the pro-Syrian opposition, led by Hizbollah, could condition the election of the future president.

In addition there is the threat that a second parallel government might be set up, a prospect rejected yesterday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in an interview with L’Orient Le Jour.

The Daily Star reported yesterday that Saad Hariri, leader of the majority coalition in parliament to which the murdered legislator belonged, spoke yesterday by phone with National Assembly Speaker Nabih Berri.

Both are said to have agreed to continue "conciliatory efforts" and to resume dialogue. (PD)