French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday cautioned against blocking Lebanon's "last chance" to elect a president next week, vowing that forces behind such a scheme would be isolated by France and other states.
Sarkozy served the warning on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels, hours after Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said international wrath would fall on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime if it maintained efforts to block the presidential election process. Sarkozy was quoted by AFP as urging all sides in Lebanon to grab a "last chance" next week to finally elect a president after a series of postponements.
"Monday is really the last chance, and France calls on all parties, inside and outside, to ensure that Lebanon can have a president," the French leader said. "Those would take the risk of killing off that chance would cut themselves off from a number of countries, first among them France," Sarkozy warned.
These comments came as Lebanon bid farewell to a senior army commander who was assassinated earlier this week. The nation was in an official state of mourning for Brigadier Francois el-Hajj, and flags across the country flew at half mast.
A funeral mass was held near Beirut ahead of Hajj's burial in his southern hometown of Rmeish, on the border with Israel.