U.N. urges Lebanon to elect new president

The U.N. Security Council expresses 'disappointment and concern' that an election of a new Lebanese president has not occurred

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The U.N. Security Council expressed "disappointment and concern" Thursday that an election of a new Lebanese president has not occurred and demanded that polls be held without delay.

In a unanimous declaration, the Council's 15 member states urged the country's parliament "to uphold Lebanon's long standing democratic tradition and to work to ensure that presidential elections take place as soon as possible and without external interference."

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

Meanwhile, Sleiman's term expired on May 25.

The Council said it "reiterates its full support for the government of Lebanon to discharge its duties during this interim period."

It also emphasized "the need for sustained international support to Lebanon in addressing the economic, security and humanitarian challenges."

In addition, the Council "stressed the importance for all Lebanese parties to... refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis."

Consensus on a presidential candidate was complicated by the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Lebanon's political paralysis is mainly due to a deep rift between two rival camps: Lebanon's Hezbollah faction backs Syria's regime, while the March 14 bloc largely backs the uprising next door.

Damascus dominated Lebanon for nearly 30 years until 2005, and still exerts significant influence over the Mediterranean country through Hezbollah, which is also a close ally of Iran.