Lebanon postpones presidential poll

Election delayed so rival leaders can agree on a compromise candidate.

    The Lebanese parliament was told of the postponement on Saturday [File: AFP]

    Political standoff
     
    The government has been paralysed since the opposition withdrew their ministers in November 2006 in an attempt to gain more political representation.
     
    Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Lebanon, said there was a danger the country could face a power vacuum and that many people fear the outbreak of violence.
     
    The row could lead to two rival governments and a return to the final years of the 1975-1990 civil war when two competing administrations battled for control.
     
    The present president, Emile Lahoud, steps down on November 24.
     
    Boutros Harb, a candidate backed by the ruling majority, said Berri appeared to have opted for the latest delay to head off a full-blown confrontation between the rival camps.
     
    "I think the new delay represents yet another reprieve so as to allow for an agreement to be struck," he said.
     
    "We are going to do our utmost to reach an accord, a compromise deal."
     
    Lebanese politicians said this week that, despite intense pressure by foreign powers, particularly France and the US, to break the current impasse, there was no indication the two sides were any closer to a compromise.
     
    Both Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, and Massimo d'Alema, his Italian counterpart, are due to return to Beirut next week.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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