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Lebanon May Amend Constitution

October 8, 1998

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Lebanon’s government called on Parliament Thursday to amend the constitution so the nation’s army commander can be elected president.

Gen. Emile Lahoud, who enjoys wide support in Lebanon, was virtually assured the job earlier this week after he received the backing of Syria, which dominates Lebanese politics.

The main barrier to Lahoud’s election by the 128-member Parliament was that the constitution bars senior civil servants from running for the office.

After a Cabinet meeting Thursday, President Elias Hrawi called on Parliament to meet Monday to amend the constitution to allow senior public servants to run for president ``once and exceptionally.″

Parliament was expected to vote for president before the Oct. 23 constitutional deadline. A new head of state will be sworn in Nov. 24, the day Hrawi leaves office.

Walid Jumblatt, a Cabinet minister and close ally of Syria, which maintains 30,000 soldiers in Lebanon, criticized the choice of a military officer and said Wednesday he would boycott the election.

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