Officials: U.S. Welcomes Extension of Suleiman’s Mandate

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U.S. Ambassador David Hale welcomed a proposal for a constitutional amendment to keep President Michel Suleiman in his post after the expiry of his six-year term on May 25, March 14 alliance officials said.

Hale made his stance during a luncheon thrown by March 14 General-Secretariat Coordinator Fares Soaid, the officials told al-Mustaqbal newspaper published on Wednesday.

The officials, who attended the lunch, said discussions focused on the presidential deadlock and a proposal to keep Suleiman in power to avoid a vacuum at Baabda Palace pending the election of a new head of state.

“The U.S. Ambassador did not show objection to this idea,” the officials told the daily. But the conferees concluded that Hizbullah’s absolute rejection to the proposal was a major obstacle.

Any attempt to keep the president in power requires a constitutional amendment by the two-thirds majority of the 128-member parliament.

The differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances have prevented the elections from taking place.

The Hizbullah-led camp has boycotted the polls to protest the candidacy of its foe Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. Another parliamentary session is scheduled to be held on Thursday.

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