No alternative to Arab plan to solve Lebanon crisis, premier says
( dpa ) - Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora Thursday defended an Arab League plan to end the crisis which has left Lebanon without a president since November.
Speaking after talks in Cairo, Seniora said the Arab initiative represented a serious plan that would help the Lebanese solve the standoff over electing a new president.
Lebanon's parliament has set February 11 as the new date for the presidential election, which was postponed 13 times.
The plan, based on Lebanon's constitution and democratic principles cherished by its people, would not give the opposition a veto power in the government, Seniora said.
The three-point Arab initiative calls for the election of army chief General Michel Suleiman as president, the formation of a national unity government in which no one party has a veto power and the adoption of a new electoral law.
Seniora's Western-backed ruling majority has accepted the bid, but the Hezbollah-led opposition, backed by Syria and Iran, demands it be granted a third of the seats in a new government so the opposition can have a veto.
Seniora defended the Arab League's interpretation of the plan, saying the right to interpret it rested only with the league.
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah has contested the interpretation of the league's chief Amr Mussa, further complicating divisions over the plan.
Seniora said he appreciated Hezbollah's "sacrifices" in the war to liberate southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation and in the 2006 war.
However, he repeated his reservations over Hezbollah's relation to the state and its controversial decisions that arguably prompted Israel to launch the war on Lebanon.
"We can say without any doubt that the authority of the state in Lebanon should be restored as one authority. A country cannot continue to exist with the presence of many statelets within it," Seniora said.