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U.N. urges Lebanon presidency deal

  • Story Highlights
  • Lebanon without president since Nov. 23, when term of Emile Lahoud expired
  • Lebanese Parliament has been unable to settle on a candidate
  • Deadlock due to power struggle between pro-Western and pro-Syrian parties
  • U.N. Secretary-General says he is "extremely concerned" about the delay
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UNITED NATIONS, New York (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is "extremely concerned" about the delay in electing a new Lebanese president, a hiatus that has gone "well past the constitutional timeframe."

Gen. Michel Sleiman is chief of Lebanon's army. Making him president would require a change to the constitution.

"It is now time for this matter to be resolved without further delay," the secretary-general said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Ban has spoken to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Majority Leader Saad Hariri about the matter and plans to "remain in close touch" with the country's leaders, the statement said.

The inability of Lebanon's parties to settle on a candidate arises from a power struggle between pro-Western parties and parties like Hezbollah that have the support of Syria.

Lebanon has been without a president since November 23, when the term of Emile Lahoud expired. The Lebanese Parliament, which elects the president, has been unable to settle on a candidate.

Parliament had been scheduled to convene again last Friday in an attempt to vote for a candidate, but Berri announced the session was postponed until this Friday. The delay was designed to give lawmakers more time to reach consensus.

Lebanese Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun said last week he could support the candidacy of Lebanon's army chief, Gen. Michel Sleiman, to become the country's new president.

Aoun is himself backed for the presidency by Hezbollah.

While the endorsement of Aoun, who is a former general, indicates a coalition may be building behind Sleiman, his election would require a change in the Lebanese Constitution, which does not allow a civil servant to be considered for president. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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