No president will be elected in Lebanon unless the Hezbollah-led opposition gets veto power in the future government, the leader of the militant group declared Wednesday.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah accused the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority of creating the current presidential deadlock by refusing a partnership with the Syrian-backed opposition.
"A solution lies in a partnership through a constitutional guarantee (and) through a veto power for the opposition, which represents more than half of the Lebanese people," Nasrallah said in an interview with the private Lebanese NBN television.
A parliamentary session to elect a new president was postponed for the 11th time on Dec. 28 with feuding factions deadlocked over a constitutional amendment and the shape of a future government. A new parliament session has been set for Jan. 12.
The crisis over the presidency has capped a yearlong power struggle between anti-Syrian politicians, who hold a slim majority in parliament and support the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, and the opposition led by Hezbollah.
The ruling coalition accuses the opposition of obstructing the presidential vote under orders from Syria and Iran, which back Hezbollah. In turn, the opposition claims pro-government groups in the parliament majority follow U.S. policies.
Nasrallah accused the United States of obstructing the presidential vote by telling its allies in the parliamentary majority not to give the opposition a veto power in any future government.
"As long as there is a U.S. decision not to give the opposition a veto power, this means there won't be a presidential election," he said.
Last month, President Bush for the first time openly urged Lebanon's ruling coalition to push through their own choice for president if necessary to resolve the long deadlock.
Bush also said he has lost patience with Syrian President Bashar Assad and his interference in Lebanese politics.
Syria effectively controlled Lebanon for almost three decades but was forced to withdraw its thousands of troops in 2005 after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused the United States on Wednesday of obstructing a solution to the deadlock.
"The American interference in Lebanon is clear-cut, with deep effects," he said at a news conference in the Syrian capital Damascus.
Nasrallah said his party supported Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman for president to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose term ended on Nov. 23 without a successor being chosen.
But Suleiman's election "will not solve the problem without a national unity government in which the opposition gets a veto power," he said.
Nasrallah blamed the deadlock on the ruling coalition which he said "wants to fully control authority and rejects partnership with the other party ... A veto power means that the opposition becomes a partner (in government)."
Lawmakers on both sides have agreed to back Suleiman as a compromise candidate, but parliament must first amend the constitution to allow a sitting military chief to become president.
This process has been complicated by the opposition's demand for a new unity government that would give it veto power over major decisions. Opposition boycotts have thwarted attempts to choose a president by preventing a two-thirds quorum.
France, Lebanon's former colonial ruler, is leading international mediation between feuding Lebanese blocs.
Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that France wouldn't talk with Syria until the Syrian government showed a willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president.
Syria retaliated on Wednesday by saying it suspended cooperation with France to solve Lebanon's political crisis - another indication that the Lebanese deadlock was nowhere near a resolution.
In Beirut, Saad Hariri, head of the parliamentary majority and the son of Rafik Hariri, said Syria's announcement was a message to the international community that Syria still considers itself key to a solution to the Lebanese deadlock. ( AP )