Source: Kuwait Times
Wire Service: AFP
Foreign powers have influenced presidential elections in Lebanon since it gained independence from France in 1943, amid a complex system dictated by religious and political considerations. And now as parliament is due to convene to find a successor for pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud, history seems to be repeating itself in this tiny Mediterranean nation where 18 different religious communities jostle for power. The Western-backed majority and the pro-Syrian opposition faced a midnight Friday deadline to find a new president and foreign envoys are scrambling to Beirut to spur them to overcome their feuds. By tradition parliamentary consensus is necessary in order to choose a president from the Maronite Christian community. "Consensus is at the very heart of the political-social structure of Lebanon and this means that the majority... cannot impose its will on the minority," Paul Salem, head of the Carnegie Middle East Centre, told AFP.