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Mediator leaves as Lebanon vote delayed for 14th time

By Agencies
Lebanon's presidential election has been postponed to February 26 from Monday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Saturday, announcing the 14th delay in the vote caused by the country's political crisis.

The conflict between the governing coalition and an opposition alliance led by the powerful Hezbollah has left Lebanon without a head of state since November. The crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war.

Berri announced the postponement in a statement. The president is elected by parliament, which cannot convene without a political deal between the US-backed governing coalition and the opposition, which is supported by Syria.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa left Beirut on Saturday after mediating talks that failed to yield a breakthrough.

"I do not want to exaggerate and give more hope than necessary," said Moussa, who has been trying to broker a deal under an Arab states' initiative to end the crisis. "I am leaving with some hope," he added.

The two sides have agreed on army chief General Michel Suleiman as the next head of state, but have been unable to agree on the make-up of a new cabinet.

The opposition wants veto power in the government or a three-way split that would share portfolios equally between it, the governing coalition and ministers appointed by the president. The governing coalition has rejected the idea. (Reuters)