Lebanon seeks Arab help in political crisis

By Xinhua

Beirut : As political impasse is escalating, Lebanon is hoping that Sunday’s Arab foreign ministers’ meeting can help resolve the crisis and lead to the long-waited presidential elections.

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The Lebanese government has prepared a document that it will present at the Arab foreign ministers meeting, which is scheduled in Cairo on Sunday, the English Daily Star reported on Saturday.

Mohammad Shatah, adviser to Lebanese Premier Fouad Seniora, was quoted as saying that the government’s document would stress the need to convene a presidential election immediately and to thwart external interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs “whether from Syria or any other country.”

Lebanese acting Foreign Minister Tarik Mitri will head a Lebanese delegation despite a protest from resigned Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh of the opposition, who suggested that two Lebanese delegations would attend the meeting, said the report.

The ruling March 14 alliance on Friday also urged the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting to put pressure on Syria to end its interference in Lebanon and facilitate the election of a new president.

The March 14 bloc hoped that a coming meeting of Arab foreign ministers “would be decisive with Syria to put an end to its interference in Lebanon and halt the policy of favoritism regarding this regime and the adoption, ultimately, of deterrent measures against it,” the bloc said in a statement.

The Arab foreign ministers meeting was initiated by Egypt and Saudi Arabia following the deadlock between the French and the Syrian sides to reach an agreement on electing a new president in Lebanon.

The cease of mediation was announced by Syrian Foreign minister Walid al-Moualem on Wednesday, three days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on last Sunday that Paris will have no more contact with Syria until Damascus shows sincerity in letting Lebanon choose a consensus president.

Lebanon is facing today the most critical situation since the 1975 civil war which wrecked the country for 15 years.

Lebanese presidential seat has been vacant since former President Emile Lahoud ended his term on Nov. 24, and the sharply divided Lebanese parliament has delayed the elections for eleven times without a consensus.

The two camps have agreed in principle to elect Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman to replace former President Emile Lahoud whose term run out on Nov. 24, but are still divided on how to amend the constitution to allow for his election, as well as on the shape and policies of the future government.

Lebanese ruling coalition and the opposition have been separated by a wide chasm since six of the latter’s ministers resigned from Seniora’s government in November 2006.