Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Friday, July 25, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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A regional cover that has shielded Lebanon against the repercussions of regional turmoil is weakening, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk warned Tuesday in a stern appeal to rival political leaders to close ranks and cooperate to resolve a crisis that has left the country without a president for more than 19 months.Machnouk also said former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was pursuing efforts to protect stability in Lebanon as part of an initiative aimed at facilitating the election of a new president, refuting reports that the initiative had unraveled. Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri said the presidential election has been frozen due to rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which wield great influence in Lebanon, where they back opposing sides. Berri's remarks came shortly after Machnouk warned that the latest Saudi-Iranian tensions over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia would negatively affect the presidential election.Machnouk, a key Future Movement official, said the Future bloc is consulting with Hariri on whether to continue its dialogue with Hezbollah following the latest war of words between the two sides, sparked off by the Saudi-Iranian row.The parliamentary Future bloc accused Hezbollah of scuttling the election of a president through an internal political settlement, in a clear allusion to the initiative supporting Frangieh's candidacy for the presidency.
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