Lebanon political stalemate persists

A lingering stand-off between the Lebanese opposition and the pro-Syrian leadership has deprived Lebanon of a permanent government for nearly a month, putting key parliamentary legislative elections in May at risk.

    The opposition wants authorities to meet a clear set of demands

    The anti-Syrian opposition is demanding a "neutral" government charged with organising May elections. If a government is not formed, the elections could be delayed.

    Pro-Syrian caretaker prime minister Umar Karami, who resigned on 28 February only to be called back to duty on 10 March, has so far been spurned by opposition figures in his bid to form a cabinet of national unity.

    Veteran Druze politician Walid Jumblat, another leading opposition voice, appeared on Wednesday to soften his stance as he made a new overture to Karami.

    "Given our desire to preserve stability and to break the impasse, we would like Mr Karami's cooperation and we would work to turn a new page," Jumblat said after a meeting with outgoing Economy Minister Adnan Kassar.

    However, another opposition MP who is a member of Beirut Decision Bloc, al-Hariri's bloc in the Lebanese parliament, told Aljazeera from Beirut on Thursday that the opposition was still sticking to its demands.

    Security fears

    "We confirm that we, in al-Hariri's bloc, are still sticking to our priorities like carrying out an international investigation into the assassination of al-Hariri, suspending the activities of security chiefs, identifying responsibilities and implementing theTaif Accord that can lead to full withdrawal of Syria forces from Lebanon", Jan Oghasbiyan said.

    "Given our desire to preserve stability and to break the impasse, we would like Mr Karami's cooperation and that we work to turn a new page"

    Opposition leader Walid Jumblat

    He said Jumblat's new position coincided with an explosion of political problems, a lingering deadlock and an upsurge of security fears.

    "We, in al-Hariri's bloc, have not discussed the situation or expressed our position. We want to reconsider the current situation and re-examine the possibility of forming a government. We want to see parliamentary elections held within the constitutional term," Oghasbiyan said.

    "Jumblat might find that the way to reach such a result is by holding consultations and dialogue with the designated prime minister, Umar Karami.

    Our bloc, however, has not given its final word on his bid."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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