BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman is not eyeing an extension of his own term, he said in remarks published Wednesday, amid political deadlock linked to the crisis in neighboring Syria.
“The Constitution is clear: the Cabinet has the constitutional responsibility to prepare for the presidential elections at the earliest,” Sleiman told the local newspaper An-Nahar.
“And if [Cabinet] agreed on an extension, I will challenge it,” he added.
Sleiman’s mandate ends in May.
Political sources told The Daily Star earlier this summer that an extension of Sleiman’s term or a vacuum in the presidency appear to be the only options for Lebanon.
But Sleiman, in his remarks Wednesday, said: "I do not tend to believe that there are those who seek a vaccuum."
Sleiman reiterated his rejection of granting any bloc veto power and insisted that a new government must be represented by the various political parties.
“I'm not with veto power, and with the participation of everyone in this government and without the exclusion of Hezbollah,” he said.
Sleiman also strongly denied a recent report by several Beirut dailies that Saudi Intelligence head Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz is responsible for hindering the formation of a new Lebanon government.
Prince Bandar, Sleiman said, “is neither directly or indirectly" in charge of obstructing a Cabinet lineup, adding that the Saudi intelligence chief has nothing to do with the issue.
The leading Lebanese newspaper As-Safir and the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily blamed Prince Bandar for obstructing a government formation.
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, faced with conditions and counter-conditions by the rival political groups, has been struggling to shape a new Cabinet since April.