BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon’s army chief and consensus presidential candidate Michel Sleiman said in an interview published on Thursday that he doubts the country’s political crisis will be resolved.
“Every time we take one step forward we find ourselves facing another series of steps that need to be taken before electing a president,” Michel Sleiman told the opposition leftist daily As-Safir.
“This leaves us with a mountain of contradictory conditions that must be met if a new president is to be elected.
“If one side nominates me the other side protests. If one country supports my candidacy another opposes it,” he added.
Sleiman said that he would step aside as army chief in August.
“I have informed the army of my final decision to go home as of August 21,” Sleiman said.
The country’s protracted political crisis has left it without a president since last November 24 when the mandate of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud expired.
Lebanon’s pro-government majority, backed by the West and most Arab states, agreed to Sleiman’s candidacy after months of opposing it.
The opposition, backed by Syria and Iran, also backed his candidacy but then refused to take part in the vote as they sought assurances about their representation in a new government line-up.
Arab League chief Amr Mussa has made several visits to Beirut in a bid to resolve the crisis based on an Arab League plan that calls for the immediate and unconditional election of the consensus candidate and then the formation of a new cabinet.
Lebanon’s crisis mired last weekend’s Arab summit in Damascus in controversy as a number of leaders including Saudi Arabia’s king and the Egyptian president boycotted the gathering, blaming Syria for the deadlock.
Arab leaders who did attend urged Lebanese parties to elect the consensus candidate as soon as possible, endorsing the league initiative.
Sessions of parliament to elect a new head of state have been postponed 17 times. The next session is scheduled for April 22.