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Monday, September 3, 2007

Lebanon opposition gives up condition

Sun, 02 Sep 2007 09:03:48
Source: Reuters

Nabih Berri, Parliament Speaker and leader of al-Amal party

Lebanon's opposition has dropped its demand for a national unity government ahead of an upcoming presidential election, Nabih Berri says.

Lebanon's opposition has dropped a condition for its participation in an upcoming presidential election in parliament, said the opposition figure Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri .

The opposition, which includes pro-Syrian Shia Muslim Hezbollah and Berri's Amal group, had demanded a new national unity government with an opposition veto and a consensus presidential candidate as conditions for attending the vote, where its MPs are needed to make it valid.

"Let us come together to approve presidential elections on the basis of consensus and a two-thirds majority ... the opposition does not want a (national unity) government before the elections," Berri said.

Berri's announcement gave some ground in a political conflict with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's US-backed anti-Syrian government that has paralyzed Lebanon since November.

The constitution says parliament should meet on September 25 to elect a replacement for pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose term expires at midnight on November 23. Opposition MPs are needed at the vote for a two-thirds quorum to be met.

Siniora's supporters have prioritized replacing Lahoud with someone independent of Syria ever since Syrian troops left Lebanon in 2005 after the killing of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.

But Hezbollah is equally determined to keep the presidency out of the hands of political adversaries that are believed to be controlled by Washington, and little progress has been made on appointing a compromise presidential candidate.

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