Lebanon: President promises free election as new PM starts talks
Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud told European ambassadors on Saturday that the elections would allow the Lebanese to express their will in an "atmosphere of freedom, integrity and democracy."
He made these comments as Nagib Miqati, who was named Lebanon's prime minister with backing from both pro-Syrian and opposition figures, commenced contacts to form a cabinet.
Miqati was meeting with former prime ministers on Saturday and was due to open parliamentary consultations on Monday, facing an end-April deadline to call elections. "I come with an open hand and an open heart so that we can all cooperate in the interests of Lebanon," he said after his selection, according to AFP.
"We are facing a new period... a return to democracy," he said, pledging to be a "symbol of moderation and national unity."