Lebanese presidential vote delayed to Nov 12

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BEIRUT, Oct 22 (Reuters) Lebanon's presidential election had been postponed from tomorrow to November 12, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in a statement today.

Berri said the delay was to allow more time for rival groups to agree on a compromise candidate to be elected by parliament to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose term expires on Nov 23.

It is the second postponement in electing a president, a step seen as vital to resolving a one-year-old crisis pitting the anti-Syrian ruling majority against the opposition, led by pro-Syrian Hezbollah.

There are fears that if no president is elected before Lahoud's term expires, Lebanon would end up with two rival governments and bloodshed. The political crisis is the worst since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Opposition MPs boycotted parliament on September 25 to prevent a two-thirds quorum and thwart anti-Syrian factions, which have a slim majority, from electing a new head of state.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's backers, including the US and Saudi Arabia, want to replace Lahoud with one of their own.

Hezbollah and its allies in the opposition want to deny the presidency to their rivals, whom they regard as puppets of the United States.


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