UN council wants violence-free Lebanese election

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UNITED NATIONS, Sep 27 (Reuters) The UN Security Council called today for Lebanese presidential elections, already delayed once, to go ahead next month without ''violence, fear and intimidation.'' Lebanon's deadlocked parliament failed to elect a new head of state on Tuesday, six days after the assassination of prominent Christian MP Antoine Ghanem.

The anti-Syrian majority and the opposition are trying to reach a deal before the house meets again on October 23.

In a press statement read out by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the 15-nation Security Council said it ''looked forward for the parliament to proceed, as appropriate to the election of the President.'' France currently chairs the council.

It called for the vote to be held ''without any foreign interference, in full respect of the sovereignty of Lebanon, on the basis of national unity and in an atmosphere free of violence, fear and intimidation, in particular against the representatives of the Lebanese people and institutions.'' The parliament's failure to find the two-thirds majority needed to elect a president in a first round of voting reflects a deep divide between factions that want to align Lebanon with the West and those favoring close ties with Syria and Iran.

Reuters KK VP0037

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