December 14, 2007 / 4:12 PM / 12 years ago

Lebanon must pick a president on Monday: Sarkozy

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The Lebanese parliament must pick a new president on Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday, warning that any country which intervened to prevent a deal would be isolated on the international stage.

“France has been committed like no other country to help Lebanon sort out its difficulties, but Monday is the last chance,” Sarkozy told a news conference following a European Union summit.

“France appeals to all parties, internally and externally, to work so that Lebanon can get a president of unity and consensus,” he added.

After weeks of wrangling, pro- and anti-Syrian camps in Lebanon have agreed to nominate General Michel Suleiman for the presidency, which has been vacant since November 23.

However, continued haggling led the parliament speaker to postpone the election for the eighth time, to December 17, to allow more time for an agreement.

In an apparent reference to Syria, Sarkozy warned foreign powers not to derail Monday’s vote.

“Those who take responsibility for killing that (last) chance should know that they will be breaking definitively with a number of major countries, including France,” Sarkozy said.

France, Lebanon’s former colonial power, has been at the forefront of a mediation drive to resolve the presidency crisis and observers fear that failure to secure a deal will trigger violence in the volatile country.

Reporting by Mark John, Writing by Crispian Balmer

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