White smoke from Doha as lebanese sign the deal.
Rival Lebanese leaders signed a deal on Wednesday to end 18 months of political crisis. The deal, reached after six days of Arab-mediated talks in Qatar, paved the way for parliament to elect army chief General Michel Suleiman as president, filling a post vacant since November because of the political deadlock.
Lebanese Parliament speaker Nabih Berri said Suleiman would be elected president this week. However, MP Michel Murr said later presidential elections were set for Sunday so Arab and foreign officials would be able to attend. The deal between the ruling coalition and the Hizbullah-led opposition resolved a dispute over a parliamentary election law and met the opposition's long-standing demand for veto power in the 30-member cabinet. "The parties agreed that the speaker of parliament will call within 24 hours for the election of General Michel Suleiman as president of the republic," Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani said, reading from the agreement at the signing ceremony in Doha.
"We have no future other than through internal unity," Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said in a speech at the signing ceremony.
The ruling coalition had long refused to meet the opposition's demand for cabinet veto power, saying the opposition was trying to restore Syrian control of Lebanon.
The deal included a pledge by both sides not to use violence in political disputes.
Tags: Lebanon , Qatar , Hizbollah , Beirut
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