Lebanon News

Hezbollah, LF trade blame over election saga

Sheik Nabil Qaouk, Hezbollah's commander in south Lebanon attends a funeral in Hanaway, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. (AP)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces Sunday traded blame for the delay in electing a new president as the possibility of missing the constitutional deadline grows likelier.

With no new developments in the election saga, the fourth Parliament session scheduled for Thursday is expected to be adjourned for a lack of quorum as March 8 MPs seem adamant on yet another boycott.

Hezbollah official Sheikh Nabil Qaouk threw the blame on the March 14 coalition for the delay in electing a new president, saying its insistence on LF head Samir Geagea was behind the impasse.

"The problem with the presidential election is that the March 14 coalition insisted on a confrontational candidate and that is the direct cause of the delay,” Qaouk said during a ceremony in the southern town of Nabatieh "The March 14 coalition proves that they are the coalition of failed bets ... and [they] thought it was the right opportunity to have a president who would carry out a coup on equations and national principles."

Hezbollah has said that Geagea, the head of the Lebanese Forces, is a confrontational candidate given his strong stance against the resistance party.

Hours later, LF MP Fadi Karam hit back at Qaouk, saying the resistance group was the one disrupting the election.

"At the time when Hezbollah continues steps to disrupt the land of the cedars, the March 14 [coalition] continues with its struggles including the election of a new president who will represent such a struggle,” Karam tweeted.

The March 14 coalition has stood by Geagea's nomination so far, asking their rivals in the March 8 alliance to nominate a candidate of their own.

But some of the March 8 lawmakers, primarily MPs with Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc, have boycotted the last two Parliament sessions to elect a new president in a bid to pressure their rivals to agree on a consensus candidate.

Aoun’s MPs have said that the sessions were fruitless in the absence of an agreement on a single nominee.

President Michel Sleiman's term ends May 25, leaving Lebanon facing a vacuum in the presidency unless the rival parties reach a compromise, which observers and politicians have said is unlikely to happen in the near future.





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