Tuesday, April 22, 2008

U.N. Calls For Disarming Of Hizbullah

(RTTNews) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for immediate holding of presidential elections in Lebanon without any external interference and urged Syria and Iran to support efforts to disarm guerilla group Hizbullah.

"Parliament, which has not met in more than a year, must be allowed to convene urgently to fulfill its constitutional duties in order to elect a president...," Ban said. "A free and fair presidential election, without foreign interference or influence must take place immediately. The current situation is no longer sustainable."

In his six-month report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban highlighted the mounting international concern over Lebanon's failure to elect a leader for the country's top post, left vacant after pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud stepped down last November.

The U.N. Chief also warned that Lebanon would not be a fully sovereign, democratic state until Hizbullah is disbanded.

The Secretary-General's report, obtained by The Associated Press, stressed the need for the implementation of a 2004 resolution that calls for presidential elections under the constitution and the disbanding of all militias.

Ban said he is concerned that further delay to elect a president "will complicate the adoption of an electoral law and the holding of Parliamentary elections on time, in spring 2009."

The U.N. Chief urged all concerned actors to cooperate urgently with Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa to immediately implement a plan adopted by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in January that called for Suleiman's election, formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new electoral law.

With Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's pro-Western, anti-Syrian government and pro-Syrian opposition factions led by Hizbullah deadlocked over power-sharing and the shape of the future Cabinet, Lebanon's sharply divided parliament has failed to elect Army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as a consensus president.

Lebanon parliament is scheduled to meet yet again on Tuesday to elect Suleiman as president after 17 postponements since September due to lack of quorum.

The opposition faction led by Hizbullah has been demanding veto power over future government decisions, which the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora strongly rejects. (NASDAQ)


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