In Beirut, a parliamentary session called to elect a new Lebanese president ended in an adjournment with no vote taking place. A new session is scheduled for October twenty-third. The term of the current president, Emile Lahoud, ends on November twenty-fourth.
Earlier this month, Christian legislator Antoine Ghanem was assassinated by a car bomb. Mr. Ghanem was the eighth anti-Syrian public figure to be murdered in Lebanon in the last two and a half years, and the sixth member of Parliament. The killings began with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. The U-N has called for an international tribunal to bring to justice those responsible for Mr. Hariri's death.
Nayla Moawad is the minister of social affairs in the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Ms. Moawad blamed the killing of Antoine Ghanem on Syria and Iran. "It is their project to terrorize us and take over Lebanon," she said in a telephone interview.
White House spokesman Dana Perino condemned the murder of Mr. Ghanem:
"There has been a pattern of political assassinations and attempted assassinations designed to intimidate those working courageously toward a sovereign and democratic Lebanon. The victims of these cowardly attacks have consistently been those who publicly sought to end Syria's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs. It is no coincidence that this attack comes as Lebanon prepares to elect a new president."
In written statement, President George W. Bush said that the "United States opposes any attempts to intimidate the Lebanese people as they seek to exercise their democratic right to select a president without interference." The U.S., says Mr. Bush, "will continue to stand . . . .with the Lebanese people as they resist attempts by the Syrian and Iranian regimes and their allies to destabilize Lebanon and undermine its sovereignty."