Moussa blames both sides in Lebanon’s presidential crisis

200711202215290_1-ledenew-aza.jpgArab League chief Amr Moussa expressed frustration Tuesday as the continuing failure of Lebanese leaders to agree on a consensus president to replace the outgoing Emile Lahoud led Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone yet another electoral session in Parliament – this time to Friday, just hours before the incumbent’s extended term expires.

“There is still some hope, although there are still difficulties,” Moussa told reporters, hours before Berri announced the postponement.

A statement from the parliamentary secretariat said the session was put off until 1 p.m. (1100GMT) Friday.

Berri, in another statement, asked the Lebanese “not to be pessimistic,” and to enjoy Independence Day on Thursday.

Three other sessions to elect a successor to Lahoud have already been postponed over the past two months.

Following in the footsteps of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Moussa continued a frenzy of mediation meetings with rival Lebanese leaders.

“There is more than one obstacle, and they all concern agreeing on the name of the next president,” Moussa said after meeting with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, adding that both the government and the opposition are still “committed” to the list of candidates drawn up by Sfeir last week.

Several reports have indicated that the most agreed-upon name on Sfeir’s list is former Minister Michel Edde, who is in his eighties, but that the ruling coalition is insisting on MP Robert Ghanem or the former central bank governor, Michel Khoury (another octogenarian), as the second name to be taken to Parliament for a vote.

Sfeir was also visited by  Kouchner, who thanked the patriarch for his efforts.

“We still have time to pick a name for the next president from Sfeir’s list,” Kouchner told reporters after the meeting.

“There are two days left and I hope that the leaders of this country will pick a candidate,” he said, adding that he planned to remain in Lebanon until Friday.

Moussa also visited Lahoud, Siniora, Berri, and Aoun , with media reports that the Arab League boss is also to remain with Kouchner in Lebanon until an agreement is reached.

“It is not right to despair,” Moussa told reporters after meeting with Lahoud.

Moussa added that both sides are contributing to the continuing impasse.

“Every group has its own vision and concerns over this or that candidate,” he said.

When asked what Lahoud’s role would be over the next few critical days, Moussa said that “Lahoud assured me that he would not divide the country.”

A senior Hizbullah delegation is expected to pay a visit to Baabda Palace on Wednesday to thank Lahoud for his support of the resistance during his nine years in office. 

After meeting Aoun, Moussa told reporters that the MP does not “give in.” “General Aoun does not submit to any pressures,” Moussa said.

Speaking in Tehran, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Syria and France were working toward the same goal, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also dispatched two top aides, Claude Gueant and Jean-David Levitte, to Damascus to discuss the crisis with Syrian President Bashar Assad for the second time in two weeks.

French presidential spokesman David Martinon announced the visit in Paris, saying: “The Lebanese must have the  possibility to choose their next president freely, without foreign intervention.”

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