|FROM A US MAN IN UN - Last service in Iraq |
The UN Security Council on Monday demanded free and fair presidential polls in Lebanon later this month without foreign meddling. After closed-door consultations on Lebanon, the 15-member body issued a non-binding statement stressing the "need to hold free and fair presidential elections in conformity with the Lebanese constitution and without any foreign interference and influence."
The statement, read out by Indonesia's UN ambassador Marty Natalegawa who chairs the council this month, reaffirmed "the need for all parties to resolve all political issues on the basis of reconciliation and national dialogue."
It was issued after the council heard a briefing from UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed Larsen on implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559.
That resolution, passed in 2004, calls for the disarming and disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias as well as the restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.
Lebanese lawmakers have failed to agree on a consensus presidential candidate to replace President Emile Lahoud, whose term expires on November 24. Last month, Lebanon's parliament speaker again postponed until November 12 a special session to elect a president, to give the divided country's feuding political factions time to agree on a consensus candidate.
Khalilzad said the United States also shared concern expressed by UN chief Ban Ki-moon that "Lahoud might not leave office as he should at midnight on November 23 or that an illegitimate separate government might be formed."