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Lebanon's Army Chief Threatens to Withdraw From Presidential Race


Lebanon's army chief has warned he will retire early and withdraw from the presidential race if the country's feuding political leaders fail to agree on his election.

General Michel Suleiman issued the threat in an interview published Thursday in a Lebanese newspaper, As-Safir.

He said he would quit as army chief on August 21, three months before his scheduled retirement. He also said he had had enough of the continued polarization between Lebanon's Western-backed governing coalition and the Syrian-backed opposition.

The two sides have agreed on the election of General Suleiman as president. But they differ on the composition of the new government and remain deadlocked on a power-sharing deal.

Parliamentary voting to elect a new president has been delayed 17 times and is now scheduled for April 22.

The governing coalition also has rejected the opposition's demand for veto power on government decisions.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since November, when pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud stepped down with no elected successor.

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