BEIRUT (AFP) Feb 10- At least two people were wounded in an exchange of fire between supporters of rival political factions in Lebanon, a security official said, further heightening tensions in the troubled country. The incident occurred as a convoy of supporters from the Progressive Socialist Party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was driving past the local headquarters of the rival Lebanese Democratic Party in Aley, about 15 kilometres (eight miles) east of Beirut the official told AFP. "Shots were heard and a passer-by was wounded by a stray bullet," he said, describing his condition as serious. He said a girl who was travelling in the party convoy was slightly injured. An official from Jumblatt’s party — which is part of the ruling anti-Syrian coalition — told AFP that four people were injured when the convoy came under fire.

But a statement from the Democratic Party said its Aley headquarters had come under fire from PSP "militia members", triggering an armed confrontation. It warned that the incident could spark civil strife among the Druze population and said Jumblatt would be held responsible.Several similar incidents have occurred recently in Beirut, with tensions running high because of a long-running political crisis pitting the ruling coalition against the Syrian-backed opposition.

(AFP) 10 FebShots were fired in an altercation on Sunday between supporters of Lebanon’s parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri and speaker Nabih Berri’s security services in Beirut, a security official said. "A convoy from the Future movement was driving by Berri’s residence. Apparently some heated words were exchanged with Berri’s security service and shots were fired," the official told AFP. He said there did not appear to be any injuries. Several similar incidents have occurred recently in Beirut, with tensions running high amid a long-running political crisis

Jumblatt had earlier launched an outspoken assault on the opposition, warning his side was ready for war.

 Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a key figure in Lebanon’s ruling anti-Syrian majority, on Sunday launched a verbal assault on the opposition, warning his side was ready for war. "You want disorder? It will be welcomed. You want war? It will be welcomed. We have no problem with weapons, no problem with missiles. We will take them from you," Jumblatt told a news conference.

Speaking four days before the third anniversary of the assassination of former premier Rafiq hariri, Jumblatt warned against a spiral dragging everyone into unrest. "If the political vacuum continues, if arming and training continue… if the charge of treason and assassinations continue — and it seems that will be the case — we will all be dragged towards disorder," he said. But Jumblatt added: "If they (the opposition) want peace, the Forces of March 14 (the parliamentary majority) are ready for it also."

Arab League chief Amr Mussa, who has been trying to mediate an accord between Lebanon’s anti- and pro-Syrian camps on electing a president, said the opposition was exaggerating its demands, a pan-Arab daily reported on Sunday.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat the opposition had put forward "extra demands" but did not specify what they were. The demands were "frank and positive, but at the same time exaggerated", Mussa said.

"We have agreed (with the opposition) to avoid, at this time, exaggerated demands," said Mussa

Compiled by Daily Star staff

With the failure of yet another round of Arab diplomacy, Speaker Nabih Berri on Saturday announced the postponement of Monday’s parliamentary session to elect a new president until February 26. The delay is the 14th postponement since former President Emile Lahoud’s term in office expired on November 24, leaving the top office vacant.

Berri’s announcement came after Arab League boss Amr Moussa left Beirut early Saturday morning after his mediation failed to secure a last-minute breakthrough. Moussa said, however, there was still "some hope" the Arab plan could still work to resolve Lebanon’s deepening political crisis. Moussa promised to return to resume his mediation but did not set a date.

"The Arab initiative is continuing, and as I said, there is some hope and we should cling to it and invest it," Moussa told reporters at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport before heading back to Egypt after two days of mediation with rival Lebanese politicians, during which he brought together majority and opposition leaders for four hours of talks on Friday.

The meeting in Parliament Friday, which grouped Moussa, parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri, former President Amin Gemayel and Change and Reform Bloc leader MP Michel Aoun, failed to secure agreement on the shape of a new national unity government.

An-Nahar newspaper, quoting anonymous sources, said that Aoun had clung to the opposition’s demand for 11 Cabinet posts in a new government during the meeting. The paper said Moussa then suggested a three-way equal split, giving the majority, the opposition and the president an equal number of ministers in a 30-member Cabinet. Aoun’s response to Moussa was reportedly to tell him that "he was not aware of the suggestion."

Moussa replied the formula in question – giving each side ten ministers – was Berri’s idea. Aoun then accepted the formula as the "basis for discussion" but only as part of a "basket of conditions, which include agreeing over the identity of the prime minister and the army commander as well as ministers’ portfolios and other appointments."

Asked by reporters before his departure if he had indeed placed the 10+10+10 formula on the table during the meeting and what reaction he got from the participants, Moussa declinded to answer.

Moussa voiced hope that neither side resort to mobilizing their followers in the street: "I hope we can deal with this sensitive matter in Lebanon with the required composure."

Once again the Arab League chief called on rival politicians to tone down their sharp rhetoric, which he said includes "cursing" and "oversteps the bounds of decency."

"The situation in Lebanon requires calm," Moussa said. He added that the vital and central Lebanese role in the matter is resolving the crisis.

Asked about alleged US objection to the Arab plan, Moussa said he did not know of any. "However, this initiative is purely Arab and has no non-Arab component," he said.

After meeting Moussa late Friday, Berri dispatched MP Ali Hassan Khalil to talk with Aoun. Senior sources in Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) told An-Nahar "no joint vision" on the shape of the next cabinet had been reached. The sources said a suggestion to convene another quadripartite meeting had been made and been welcomed but no exact date had been set for security reasons.

While one part of the Lebanese opposition is calling on the majority to accept a national unity government in line with the principle of "no victor and no vanquished," the opposition’s Christian component, 22 MPs strong, has pushed several demands.

Liberation and Development Bloc MP Ali Khreiss, said Sunday that the opposition’s stance remains to elect the Lebanese Armed Forces commander, General Michel Suleiman, as a consensus president and form a national unity government, in accordance with the Arab League plan. Khreiss also stressed the passing of a just and fair electoral law that ensures equitable representation.

"What hinders Parliament and closes state institutions is the continued monopolization of power by one group and its reliance on outside assistance instead of cooperating with their national partners and accepting true partnership," Khreiss said. The MP added, however that Parliament would not open its doors to an illegitimate government nor to a "governing group" that hindered political life in the country. – With Agencies