BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Parliament will choose a successor to President Amin Gemayel this week, House Speaker Hussein Husseini announced on Saturday.
Husseini told reporters after a meeting of the Parliament’s six-member secretariat that the 76 Parliament members will hold the election Thursday.
The speaker, a Shiite Moslem, did not disclose further details.
The six-year term of Gemayel, a Maronite Catholic, expires Sept. 23.
Under the constitution he cannot seek a second consecutive term. The constitution does not specify a date for the election of a president, who is chosen by the one-chamber Parliament.
An unwritten national covenant says Lebanon’s head of state must be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni Moslem and the House speaker a Shiite. About 20 Maronite politicians, civil servants, army officers and businessmen are competing for the post of president.
The constitution says the winner must be elected by a two-thirds majority, or a 51 percent majority in a second round.
The 99-seat Parliament was elected for a four-year term in 1972. A civil war that broke out in 1975 has prevented parliamentary elections and Parliament has been extending its own term.
Twenty-two deputies have died since 1972. Gemayel’s seat became vacant in 1982 when he was elected president. That left Parliament with only 76 members.
The presidential election Thursday will be the eighth since Lebanon’s independence from French rule in 1943, and the 14th since the state of Lebanon was first created during the French mandate in 1926.
On Aug. 23, 1982, the current president’s younger brother, Bashir Gemayel, was elected president. He was assassinated in a bomb explosion on Sept. 14, nine days before he was due to assume office.
Some believe violence could disrupt Thursday’s election. Last week, rival Shiite Moslem factions battled in south Beirut. The clash pitted the mainstream Shiite Amal movement against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God.
It was the first violent confrontation between the rival Shiite factions since Syria deployed 7,500 troops in most of south Beirut in May to end three weeks of bloody fighting between Amal and Hezbollah.