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Lebanese president signs election decree under 2000 law said to be pro-Syrian

[JURIST] Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official profile] signed a decree Thursday setting legislative elections for May 29 through June 19 under an electoral law which opposition supporters claim will favor pro-Syrian loyalists and limit Christian representation [Zaven commentary]. The law [official text in French], drafted in 2000 and applied in that year's legislative elections [Daily Star report] when Lebanon was still under Syrian control, arranges the elections into four rounds, with Lebanon divided into 14 electoral regions. The highly anticipated 2005 elections follow Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon [JURIST report], an event championed by the international community and the Lebanese opposition. The signing of the decree Thursday crushed the opposition's hope to hold a last minute parliamentary session to finish framing a new law which would give the Christian minority a better chance of representation. Lahoud had originally called for such a parliamentary session, but Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri ignored the call, forcing Lahoud to sign the decree. AFP has more. From Beirut, the Lebanon's Daily Star has local coverage.

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