Lebanon's Lahoud accuses France of summit snub

21st June 2006, Comments 0 comments

BEIRUT, June 21, 2006 (AFP) - The office of Lebanon's embattled pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud has accused former colonial power France of blocking his invitation to a summit of French-speaking nations.

BEIRUT, June 21, 2006 (AFP) - The office of Lebanon's embattled pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud has accused former colonial power France of blocking his invitation to a summit of French-speaking nations.

Lahoud has been boycotted by France as well as the United States since his term in office was controversially extended for three years in September 2004 under pressure from powerful neighbour Syria.

French foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said Tuesday that Lahoud had not been invited by Romania to a Francophone summit in October and that Lebanon would be instead represented by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

A statement by Lahoud's office complained there had been "direct interference by French President Jacques Chirac to make sure no invitation is extended to President Lahoud."

"This is a direct interference in Lebanese internal affairs and is a flagrant violation of the constitution which stipulates that the Lebanese state, through its institutions, decides the level of its representation, and not any other state, including the host country," it said.

Lahoud's office, which did not however criticise Romania for failing to invite him, noted that the president had chaired Lebanese delegations to several international summits and to the last UN General Assembly in September.

Mattei said the decision not to invite Lahoud was because the extension of his term violated terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 sponsored by France and the United States which had called for free and constitutional presidential elections in Lebanon.

Lahoud's term was extended for three years in 2004 under a constitutional amendment backed by Syria, which had been the main powerbroker in Lebanon until domestic and international protests forced it to end its 29-year military presence.

Earlier this year, Lahoud's office accused Chirac of personally working towards ousting the Lebanese president -- a claim denied by France.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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