U.S. Perceives Presidential Election as Lebanon’s Main Challenge

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The United Sates said that the presidential election is the main challenge facing Lebanon, rejecting any vacuum at the state’s higher Christian post.

“The delicate situation Lebanon needs a responsible leadership that could face all the challenges and implement the country’s international commitments,” deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Lawrence Silverman in a speech during a hearing for the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He pointed out in a session under the slogan the “Lebanon’s Security Challenges and U.S. Interests” that “electing a new president is the main challenge in Lebanon,” hailing the stance of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who insists on holding presidency polls within the constitutional timeframe.

President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ends in May but the Constitution states that the parliament should choose a new head of state within a two-month period, which started on March 25.

Silverman expressed hope that the Lebanese political arch-foes would exert efforts for further consensus over the matter, similar to the agreement that led to the formation of Salam’s cabinet.

Vacuum shouldn’t occur, he remarked.

“The failure to elect a new president would lessen the agreement reached between the rival parties,” Silverman continued.

The Lebanese Forces executive committee unanimously agreed to back the candidacy of LF chief Samir Geagea to the presidency.

Lebanese media have in recent weeks identified other presidential hopefuls as Kataeb party leader and ex-president Amin Gemayel, MPs Boutros Harb and Robert Ghanem, who are like Geagea members of the March 14 anti-Syria movement.

Other potential candidates are Hizbullah allies Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh.

Lebanese presidents are always chosen from the Christian Maronite community.

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