Lebanonâ€™s Hizbollah on Sunday called on incumbent President Emile Lahoud to take action if rival political leaders are unable to agree on a consensus president in next weekâ€™s election.Hizbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah did not say what he wanted the president to do and his call seemed likely to further complicate efforts to elect a president.
But the powerful leader appeared to be backing a suggestion that pro-Syrian Lahoud could form a parallel government if there was no agreement on the presidential election.
Lebanonâ€™s presidential election has been postponed from November 12 to November 21 to give the anti-Syrian majority coalition and the Hizbollah-led opposition more time to break a deadlock over a compromise candidate. Lahoudâ€™s term expires on November 23.
But there has been little progress towards an agreement and the majority, backed by the United States, has said it would elect a president on its own if there was no deal.
Nasrallah said Hizbollah would consider any such president as an â€œusurper of powerâ€ and labelled the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora â€œa bunch of thieves and murderersâ€ backed by the United States and Israel.
â€œFrom here, we appeal to His Excellency President Emile Lahoud to do what his conscience and national responsibility stipulates… and take a step or a national salvation initiative to stop the country from [sliding into] a vacuum,â€ Nasrallah said in a live televised address to a crowded Hizbollah rally.
The majority says Lahoud does not have the constitutional right to take any measures without the approval of the government.
Lahoudâ€™s six-year term was extended in 2004 by another three years at the behest of Syria, a step that enraged the international community.
Lahoud has largely been shunned since then and Syria ended its three-decade-long military presence in Lebanon in 2005 in the wake of widespread outcry after the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
Damascus has denied any links to Haririâ€™s killing.
The parliamentary session to elect a president had already been postponed twice. The impasse has pushed Lebanon into its worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Many Lebanese fear a failure to reach a deal could lead to more bloodshed amid reports that all factions are arming themselves.
Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, a Hizbollah ally, announced the delay in the presidential vote on Saturday.