|Lebanese army commander General Michel Suleiman is seen in this Oct. 29, 2007. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)|
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has said that Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman will be the next president for Lebanon, local An Nahar reported Wednesday.
"The story is over. Army Commander Michel Suleiman has become the president for the republic," Berri told An Nahar in comments published Wednesday.
Berri said Suleiman will become the "real president, enjoying both internal and external backing."
Gen. Suleiman, 59, has held his post since 1998. He is seen as a neutral figure in a country where nearly every politician is considered either in the pro- or anti-Syrian camp.
The Speaker added that he had already received overwhelming support for Suleiman's presidency from the United States, France, Saudi as well as Egypt, Syria and "the whole world."
He also confirmed that a Friday session to elect a new president will take place as scheduled, saying, "The amendment process, the election of a president and consultations don't need more than two hours."
On Nov. 30, the Lebanese parliament failed again to elect a new president as its session was postponed till Dec. 7 to allow for talks expected to focus on the army chief's nomination for the presidency which has been vacant since former President Emile Lahoud stepped down on Nov. 24.
It is the sixth postponement since Sept. 25 because the ruling majority and the opposition have failed to agree on a consensus candidate to succeed Lahoud.
Suleiman has emerged as the latest nominee for the post at the heart of the power struggle after the largest bloc in parliament --the anti-Syrian Al-Moustaqbal Movement -- announced on Wednesday that it accepts a constitutional amendment allowing the election of Suleiman president.
According to Lebanon's constitution, a senior public servant has to stand down from his post two years ahead of running for the presidency.