BEIRUT, Lebanon,AP -Lebanon”s staunchly pro-Syrian president said he intends to remain in office, rejecting opposition demands for him to step down in the wake of the slaying of an anti-Syrian journalist.
The anti-Syrian opposition stepped up calls for President Emile Lahoud”s resignation after journalist Samir Kassir was killed last week by a bomb that destroyed his car. The opposition blamed Damascus, along with the president and pro-Syrian elements in the Lebanese security services, for Kassir”s death.
The opposition had planned a march Monday but postponed the demonstration Sunday until parliamentary elections are over.
Lebanon is in the midst of parliamentary elections that the anti-Syrian opposition hopes will end Damascus” control of the legislature. Beirut voted on May 29 and southern Lebanon on Sunday. The process runs for another two Sundays.
Lahoud, who has condemned the killing of Kassir, lashed out at the accusations against him Sunday, saying the attacks were "political campaigning par excellence, part of electioneering whose perpetrators know no limits."
"I have pledged to the Lebanese … Lebanon”s unity, sovereignty, its independence and the safety of its land," he said. "I affirm this pledge until the last minute of my constitutional term, exactly as I pledge to respect public freedoms, first and foremost the freedom of expression and belief."
Demands for the long-serving president to resign intensified after Syria pulled its troops out of Lebanon in April, ending three decades of political and military control. The withdrawal followed mass protests and heavy international pressure on Damascus after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.