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Lebanon optimistic as Suleiman prepares for power

Lebanon optimistic as Suleiman prepares for power
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Lebanon’s long-running political stalemate should be resolved today, with the long-awaited appointment of a new president. The parliament in Beirut is set to confirm army chief General Michel Suleiman as Lebanon’s eleventh head of state, filling a post left vacant for six months by a crisis which threatened renewed civil war.

Suleiman has long been in line for the job, but arguments among Lebanon’s pro- and anti-Syrian politicians led to the head of State election being postponed 19 times. Finally, mediation from Qatar and the Arab League produced a solution, defusing the tensions which sparked street fighting between the western-backed government and Hizbollah fighters.

The crisis meant parliament has not met for more than 18 months, with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government barely able to function. As President, General Suleiman will have to deal with many divisive issues, including a UN resolution calling for all Lebanon’s powerful militias to be disarmed.