Feltman Expresses Fear over Presidential Impasse, Rules Out Prolonged Vacuum

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U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman expressed concern over the ongoing presidential deadlock in Lebanon, ruling out that the country would witness a prolonged vacuum similar to 2008.

“The continuation of constitutional institutions (in Lebanon) is a key issue in maintaining stability, security and unity in Lebanon,” Feltman told An Nahar newspaper.

Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after Michel Suleiman's presidential term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader.

Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum.

The diplomat recalled that the last time a presidential vacuum hit the country for six months, which was resolved after clashes erupted in Beirut.

“No one can predict the future,” he said.

However, Feltman expressed belief that the country will not witness a similar situation again.

“I think all parties learned a lesson from the May 2008 incidents and they realize the dangerous repercussions of imposing a decision” on the other factions, the U.N. official told the daily.

He considered that the security situation in Lebanon is “far from perfect but it's better than the expected.”

After the term of incumbent President Emile Lahoud expired in November 2007, Lebanese officials failed to agree on a candidate for around six months until the election of ex-President Suleiman.

Feltman recognized the ability of the Lebanese people to maintain stability and unity despite all the local and regional crises.



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