BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman pledged Friday to ensure a smooth transition of power and a timely handover at next year’s presidential elections for the first time in more than 40 years of Lebanon’s turbulent political history.

“I will work sincerely and seriously to ensure the appropriate circumstances and conditions for holding the presidential elections on time and exceptionally hand over the place [Baabda Palace] in a normal way for the first time in more than 40 years. This will be a big achievement,” Sleiman said at a ceremony marking the centennial foundation of the Zouk Mikhael Municipality.

During Lebanon’s 1975-90 Civil War and the subsequent years, a new head of state could not be elected normally either for security reasons or for lack of quorum in Parliament to convene and elect a new president.

The last two presidents, Elias Hrawi and Emile Lahoud, had their mandates extended by three years by Parliament when Syria was the main power broker in Lebanon. [Link]