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Lebanon's Government Drafts Law to Allow Army Chief to Become President


Lebanon's pro-Western government has drafted a constitutional amendment that would allow army chief Michel Suleiman to become head of state.

The draft law announced Monday would grant General Suleiman an exemption from a constitutional provision that bars senior public servants from running for president while in office.

Lebanon's ruling coalition and pro-Syrian opposition have agreed in principle that the army chief should become president, filling a post that has been vacant for a month. But the two sides remain divided on the make-up of a new government to be established after parliament votes for a president.

The government's draft constitutional amendment must be submitted to parliament for approval. Parliament's pro-Syrian speaker, Nabih Berri, has said he will reject legislation from a government he says is illegitimate because it contains no opposition ministers.

Berri last week postponed a parliamentary vote on a new president for a 10th time to this coming Saturday. He has vowed to keep delaying the vote until the ruling coalition and opposition reach a final agreement.

The Lebanese opposition is demanding guarantees of veto power in a future unity government, as part of a broader deal with the ruling coalition. The government wants the army chief to be elected first.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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