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May 25, 2008
Lebanon Finally Elects Suleiman President
After six months without a president, Lebanon's Parliament finally elected Army Chief Michel Suleiman as a successor to Emile Lahoud:
Analysts worry, however, that electing a president after nearly six months of turmoil fails to resolve the most pivotal issues concerning the political violence in Lebanon, Voice of America reported.Suleiman, who has been a consensus choice of all the parties for months but whose election was held up the the Hezb'allah led opposition until they were guaranteed veto power in any new government, is seen by most Lebanese as pro-Syrian but as someone who can work with the majority March 14th forces. His recent orders to the army not to intervene when Hezb'allah was rampaging through West Beirut underscore his weak position and possible thorn in the side of the majority.
Suleiman has good ties with both sides of the political turmoil in Lebanon, though his ability to form a unity government remains untested.
Mohamad Bazzi with the U.S. think tank Council on Foreign Relations said, "The entire system works on consensus, so Gen. Suleiman would have to achieve consensus on all of the important questions, and that's the most difficult problem ... there's no consensus around the thorny questions, like Hezbollah's weapons."
Other questions remain unsettled, notably Lebanon's relationship with Syria and Beirut's involvement in the U.N. investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The new president's first job is to form a new government with 16 ministers from the majority and 11 from the opposition (he can name three of the ministers). Already there are lists out that both sides have said they have problems with.
Good luck Mr. President. You are going to need it.