After 19 postponements in six months, Lebanese lawmakers elected Gen. Michel Sleiman as president, ending a deadlock which has left the post vacant since November. (Report: N. RUSHWORTH)
Lebanese lawmakers elected Michel Sleiman as president of their deeply divided nation Sunday in a critical first step towards ending a crippling 18-month political crisis.
At a packed swearing-in ceremony in
His terse swearing-in statement was greeted by a standing ovation inside
Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony ended a political deadlock between rival political blocs that had left the nation without a president since November.
Wearing a black suit and grey tie, Sleiman called for a minute of silence for
Speaking to a gathering of Lebanese parliamentarians as well as foreign dignitaries at the ceremony, Sleiman appealed for unity in a fractiously divided nation that earlier this month hovered precariously on the brink of civil war.
"I call upon all of you, politicians and citizens, to start a new phase called
International community welcomes Sleiman’s election
Sleiman’s election followed last week’s mediation talks in
With each faction accusing the other of serving external masters, the Lebanese political crisis is widely viewed as an extension of rifts between Shia and Sunni Muslim powers as well as the confrontation pitting the West – especially the
Welcoming Sleiman’s election Sunday,
"I am hopeful that the Doha Agreement ... will usher in an era of political reconciliation to the benefit of all Lebanese," said Bush in a statement.
Hezbollah has rejected any move to force it to lay down its weapons, which it says are needed to deter an Israeli attack.
A speech reaching out to opposing blocs
In his speech Sunday, Sleiman said
"The Shebaa Farms remain under occupation and because of continued threats and violations of our sovereignty by
But his statement on
Sleiman’s speech, which was aimed at reconciliation, was a careful balancing act between the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority led by Saad Hariri, son of
"We cherish our relationship with Arab countries and seek brotherly ties with
At the same time, Sleiman stressed his commitment to UN resolutions and the international tribunal set up to try those behind Hariri’s assassination.
The outgoing Western-backed governing coalition had pushed for the UN tribunal and blamed
Despite the euphoria greeting Sleiman’s election, the critical problems facing
Date created : 2008-05-25