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Lebanon's ruling coalition urges lawmakers to attend presidential election
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13:16, November 23, 2007

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Lebanon's ruling coalition urged parliament members Thursday to take part in a parliamentary session scheduled for Friday to elect a new president, local news website Naharnet said.

Leaders of the anti-Syrian ruling coalition, also known as the March 14 forces, said in a statement that participation in electing a new head of state is in line with legislators' "constitutional duties."

The call came after the opposition said it would boycott the Friday voting, as French mediation failed to help the two sides reach consensus on incumbent President Emile Lahoud's successor.

The statement said parliament is the sole authority that elects presidents, chooses premiers and grants governments votes of confidence allowing them to rule.

The March 14 forces also rejected a proposal by opposition leader Michel Aoun, claiming they would not be lured into proposals that urge the following of an unconstitutional path.

Earlier Thursday, Aoun proposed a "salvation solution" in a bid to defuse the country's political crisis, according to which he will name an interim president from outside his parliamentary blocto replace the Damascus-backed Lahoud until after the 2009 parliamentary elections.

According to Lebanon's power-sharing system along the sectarian line, the president must be a Maronite Christian.

Anoun also proposed that ruling majority leader Saad Hariri be allowed to name a "consensus premier" from outside his party who would be committed to the international tribunal on the assassination of his father, former premier Rafiq Hariri in a massive bombing attack, for which many blamed Damascus.

The parliamentary session, which had been delayed for four times since September, is scheduled to be held at 1:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) Friday, 11 hours before Lahoud's term expires.

Many politicians and analysts said Friday's session might be postponed again due to gaps between the feuding parties.


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