BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Lebanon’s presidential election will be delayed until “the end of next week”, a senior political source said on Friday, in what would be the eleventh delay to a vote first scheduled to take place more than three months ago.
The vote had been set for Saturday. While rival leaders have agreed on army chief General Michel Suleiman as a consensus candidate for the presidency, they are still wrangling over how to share power once he takes office.
“Complications in regional and international negotiations and the severing of domestic talks contributed to the delay of tomorrow’s session until the end of next week,” the source told Reuters.
The vote cannot take place without a two-thirds quorum in parliament, which can only be secured by a deal between the ruling coalition and the opposition.
The Hezbollah-led opposition wants assurances it will have veto power in the new cabinet, but the anti-Syrian majority coalition wants Suleiman elected first and says the government’s formation falls within the new president’s power.
Political sources said no progress was made in reconciling the rival camps this week. Both sides have increased the rhetoric, blaming each other for obstructing the election of Suleiman.
The presidency has been vacant since the term of pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud ended on Nov. 23, and there are fears the prolonged vacuum could further destabilise Lebanon, already entrenched in its worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.