Aoun Blocks Lebanon Parliament From Meeting on Reform Proposal

From Reuters

Christian strongman Maj. Gen. Michel Aoun blocked the Lebanese Parliament from meeting today in a villa on Beirut's Green Line battlefront, but an Arab League mediator said plans are being made to hold the crucial peacemaking session elsewhere.

Deputies needed for a quorum were still abroad, and the meeting was unlikely to be convened until Monday or Tuesday.

The session--the next stage in an Arab League effort to end 14 years of civil war--would ratify political reforms reducing the entrenched powers of Lebanon's Christian minority. It would also elect a president after more than a year without a clear-cut leader.

Aoun, who is vehemently opposed to the plan, reiterated Friday that he would dissolve Parliament if it attempts to meet to consider the plan.

Christian and Muslim deputies agreed on the Arab-sponsored peace plan last month in Taif, Saudi Arabia, and Arab mediators asked them to endorse it in Beirut no later than Tuesday.

There has been speculation for days that because of the likelihood of mass demonstrations by Aoun's Christian supporters, the session would be moved to a safer location in the two-thirds of the country under the control of the Syrian army.

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