NEWS: Lebanon’s political limbo

Lebanese fail to elect president

Lebanese MPs have failed to convene to elect a new president as the term of the incumbent, Emile Lahoud, expires.

Members of the Western-backed majority had hoped to hold a vote, but the pro-Syrian opposition did not allow the session to achieve the quorum needed.

The crisis has raised fears of civil strife, including the possibility of rival administrations, as happened during the 15-year civil war. [complete article]

From hopeful to helpless at a protest in Lebanon

Squalls of rain lashed the offices of Carmen Geha and other young activists. Thunder rolling off the Mediterranean provided a cadence to their work. The weather was a little like politics this week in Lebanon — turbulent and baleful. And Geha, optimistic against the odds, was determined to provide a glimmer of hope.

Lebanon finds itself in a familiar place these days, facing the unknown. Its worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war builds to a climax at midnight Friday, when the term of President Emile Lahoud ends. Despite weeks of French-led mediation, Lebanon’s factions appeared unlikely to reach a consensus on Lahoud’s replacement by the deadline, plunging the country into a constitutional limbo that sets up scenarios as diverse as the country’s problems: rival governments, military rule or a vacuum, along with the civil strife each option could bring.

Geha and her colleagues readily admit the confrontation is bigger than they are. But on Wednesday, they organized a protest outside the parliament, planning to deliver a blunt demand, in the hopes that others would join them. Enough of a crisis, they said, that has brought a country still scarred by one war to the brink of another. [complete article]

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