UN's Ban warns against "confrontation" in Lebanon

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21 (Reuters) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned today there was ''a real possibility of a confrontation'' if Lebanon fails to elect a president by the end of this week.

Deeply divided Lebanese leaders have postponed the presidential election until Friday to allow more time to agree a successor to the pro-Syrian incumbent, whose term expires that day.

The delay prolonged a political crisis that many fear could lead to rival administrations and violence in a country still rebuilding from its 1975-1990 civil war. The army strengthened security yesterday and urged people to avoid internal strife.

Parliament had been due to convene today to elect a successor to President Emile Lahoud, but Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in a statement the vote would be delayed until Friday, the fourth postponement since September.

Ban visited Lebanon last week to urge political leaders to come to an agreement on a candidate.

''Should the parties fail to reach agreement by 24 November, there is a real possibility of a confrontation,'' Ban told an informal meeting of the U.N. General Assembly today.

REUTERS RSA KN2222

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