White House Tells Lebanon, Pick a Prez!

Factions plan to meet Monday; they may have to amend constitution
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2007 2:13 PM CST
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch, left, listens to Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, right, the head of the influential Christian Maronite community, at Bkirki, northeast of Beirut,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Washington pressed Lebanon today to pick a new president after the office has been left empty for three weeks, the AP reports. The Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch said the election would “restore dignity and respect to the most important Christian office." Lebanese lawmakers will meet on Monday try to try to pick a new prez, but analysts expect little progress.

If the next president will be army chief Michel Suleiman—who is backed by the anti-Syrian majority, and Hezbollah-led opposition—Lebanon must first pass a constitutional amendment to let the army head be president. It must also overcome weeks of wrangling and accusations between factions, which have already tried to agree on a new president eight times.