A new political row has cast doubt over Saturday's (1 May) Lebanese Presidential election, which is seen as an essential step towards a political settlement of the year-long civil war in the country.
GV EXT Sentry box outside building
MV Jumblatt with left-wing representatives seated and talking in room (3 shots)
MV Sarkis sitting at table with newsmen looking on (2 shots)
CU Sarkis speaking during news conference
Initials BB/0215 NPG/DK/BB/0225
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A new political row has cast doubt over Saturday's (1 May) Lebanese Presidential election, which is seen as an essential step towards a political settlement of the year-long civil war in the country.
The left-wing coalition called on Wednesday (28 April) for a postponement of the ballot. They accused Syria of applying military and political pressure to secure the election of the candidate of its choice, the Lebanese Central Bank Governor, Mr. Elias Sarkis.
The Lebanese Parliament is due to meet on Saturday to choose a successor to the right-wing President, Suleiman Franjieh, whose resignation has been demanded by the Moslems and left-wingers. The left-wingers favour the veteran politician, Raymond Edde, buy they say that Syria is giving support to Sarkis. The left-wingers believe that an early election would favour Mr. Sarkis, because the left-coalition would not have time to organise support for Mr. Edde.
At the same time as the left-wingers were calling for the postponement of the Presidential election, Mr. Sarkis held a news conference at which he referred to the incalculable losses, both human and material, suffered by Lebanon in the past year of civil war.
"If I say that we will start from zero, I shall not be exaggerating" he said.
Mr. Sarkis also spoke of the need for Lebanon to back the Palestinian movement within the framework of agreements regulating the activities of the 400,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon.
Mr. Sarkis also said that Lebanon should strengthen its ties with fellow Arabs, and referred approvingly to the mediation efforts by Syria.