Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vote For Lebanon's President Postponed by Hezbollah boycott

Well, it looks like I called it correctly.

Today's scheduled vote for Lebanon's new president was postponed until October 23rd by a boycott led by Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian opposition.

More than 65 MPs had attended - a simple majority in the 128-seat assembly, far short of the 85 necessary for the two-thirds quorum required to vote for president.

The Hezbollah politicians and the other members of the pro-Syrian bloc stayed in the parliament's hallways, ignoring a bell summoning members into the chamber to vote.

Beirut's downtown, government offices and parliament are reported under heavy security, while Anti-Syrian members of parliament remain sequestered in the Phoenicia Hotel.

As I reported previously, the election was designed to replace pro-Syrian tool Emil Lahoud, who's stepping down in November.

Lahoud's been valuable to Syria because he's been instrumental in blocking the efforts of the ongoing UN tribunal investigation into the murder of Lebanon's anti-Syrian prime minister, Rafik Hariri and others. That investigation has already found substantial evidence of the involvement of Syria in Hariri's murder that of other anti-Syrian figures....and the evidence implicates Basher Assad and the highest levels of the Syrian government.

This is the same country the Bush Administration just invited to a Middle East `peace' conference!

What the Syrians and their Hezbollah and Amal allies have been doing to ensure that their dominance of Lebanon continues and the UN tribunal goes nowhere has been to practice their own version of `Arab democracy'.......killing off members of the anti-Syrian March 14 majority one by one to reduce the Siniora government's majority in parliament and send a message to the others, especially any potential anti-Syria presidential candidates that voting for the wrong man, let alone accepting the job as president has some very real occupational hazards.

The latest victim was the anti-Syrian Christian MP Antoine Ghanem, who was assassinated in a brutal car bombing in Beirut last week, the eighth murder in two years.

Remember when the Europeans were touting Hezbollah as `just another political party' and not a terrorist group?

What Hezbolah and the Syrians are pushing for is a `compromise' candidate - one that would leave the Siniora government with the official trappings of power but would leave Syria and Hezbolah (and thus Iran) as the real power in Lebanon. The man they want as president is Michael Aoun, a long time Syrian puppet.

Some members of the Siniora government are leaning towards bending over for this, as an alternative to renewed civil war. But some aren't.

Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, a leading member of the majority, said it fairly simply. "I don't believe in dialog with murderers."

It remains to be seen whether the Siniora government will have the spine to use a simple majority to nominate their own presidential candidate while enough of them are still alive to vote for one.

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