Funeral for two slain Christians, while the UN asks in vain for the election of Sleiman
Today, for the 19th time, the parliament meets to elect the president of the republic. The report of the United Nations once again asks for the disarmament of the militias. Accusations exchanged over the assassination of two young members of the Falange party.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The great tension that reigns in Zhale today, with the funeral for two young Christians of the Falange party - a component of the parliamentary majority - killed on Sunday has spread throughout all of Lebanon, which today, for the 19th time, will try to elect a head of state.  In vain, according to all expectations.

On account of this situation, UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon has asked for the immediate election of the president of the republic, without foreign intervention, and the implementation of those parts of the Taef accords and UN resolution 1559 that demand the disarmament of all the militias, "Lebanese and non-Lebanese", present in the country.  But the reality is that the militias, Hezbollah first among them, continue to arm themselves. "Some countries",  says UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, "seem to corroborate the affirmation according to which Syria is facilitating the passage of arms and fighters over its border with Lebanon". 

Ban Ki-moon has also asked all the parties in question to cooperate with the secretary of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, to adopt the three-point plan that provides for the immediate election as head of state of the commander of the army,  Michel Sleiman, the formation of a national unity  government in which no party would have veto power, and the adoption of a new electoral law.

Confirming the international scope of the Lebanese crisis, it will be discussed today at the conference on Iraq taking place in Kuwait, which will also see the participation of U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner.  The topic will also be addressed in the talks that the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, will hold tomorrow in Washington with president Bush.

In Lebanon, meanwhile, a large crowd is expected today in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of Our Lady of Zahle, for the funeral of the two men killed.  Yesterday, Greek-Melkite archbishop Andre Haddad made a series of attempts to facilitate the handover of the alleged assassin.

In a statement to AsiaNews, the Maronite archbishop of Zahle, Mansour Hobeika, called the murders on Sunday the result of the state of hatred and lack of charity that reigns in hearts, and expressed his closeness to the relatives of the victims, without wanting to accuse anyone.  He issued an appeal to leaders, that they spare no efforts to help the city of Zahle emerge from the current crisis, because the rescue of the country is worth sacrifice.

Meanwhile, the controversy continues over the killings.  General Michel Aoun has expressed his lively condemnation of "the incident", asking president Gemayel, leader of the Falange party, to wait for the results of the investigation before charging the alleged assassin, who was prevented from entering his house near the party headquarters. Aoun has also asked judicial officials to be impartial.

President Amin Gemayel has denied statements about the possible responsibility of the party in the murders, which he has called a response against the demonstrations of labour unions in the villages of Bakka, in favour of the election of General Sleiman. (JH)