Last updated: 25 May, 2014

UN chief calls for Lebanon unity over president

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called on Lebanon’s political rivals to end the country’s presidential stalemate.

A spokesman for Ban said the UN chief “regrets that the Lebanese Parliament was unable to elect a new president within the timeframe set by the constitution.”

Ban urged Lebanon’s leaders “to engage intensively to ensure the election of a new president without delay.”

Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after President Michel Sleiman’s mandate ended on Sunday with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader.

Over the past two months Lebanon’s parliament convened five times to try to elect a successor to Sleiman but failed each time due to a lack of quorum.

Lebanon’s political paralysis is mainly due to a deep rift between two rival camps over the conflict in Syria, the powerful neighbor that dominated Beirut for 30 years until 2005.

Ban’s spokesman said the UN leader urged “Lebanese leaders to ensure the continued effective functioning of the institutions of the state, to guarantee that the government is able to address the challenges facing the country and to meet Lebanon’s international obligations.”

“The United Nations remains committed to continued partnership with the government of Lebanon as it works towards achieving these goals,” the spokesman added.