The divided Lebanese parliament failed again to elect a president yesterday and voting was postponed until Saturday.
A statement issued by parliament's secretariat general said that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri decided to postpone Monday's session until Saturday.
Parliament must meet to approve Army Commander General Michel Suleiman for the presidency after he won backing from both the anti-Syrian parliament majority and the opposition led by Hezbollah.
It was the ninth postponement since parliament first tried to elect a new president in September.
Majority MPs said they had struck an overnight deal with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a leading member of the opposition, on electing the army chief as president without amending the Constitution.
"We will try to reach a solution today," Telecommunication Minister Marwan Hamade said. "A number of legal experts have come up with a formula which could lead to the election of army chief General Michel Suleiman."
MP Antoine Zahra, also from the majority, said the key to resolving the crisis was in the hands of the opposition.
A close aide to Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun doubted a vote would take place.
"Nothing has changed and there is no deal," Simon Abi Ramia said.
Newspapers were divided on the likelihood of a vote.
An-Nahar daily, close to the majority, said: "The white smoke rose overnight and the ninth session will be decisive. The chief of the army [is] to become president without a constitutional amendment."
The election is seen as a crucial step toward ending a long-running crisis that has paralyzed the country and left the presidency vacant since Nov. 23, when incumbent Emile Lahoud stepped down with no elected successor.
Although rival parties have agreed in principle to elect Suleiman, they have been bickering on how to amend the constitution to allow a senior public servant to become president.
They also disagree on the make-up of the new government and on who would be appointed to top security posts.
Washington at the weekend dispatched one of its top envoys to the country to meet the rival leaders and press them to end their standoff, which marks the country's worst political crisis since the end of the 1975 to 1990 civil war.
"The United States believes that it is time now to elect a new president," US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Welch said. "There is no reason for any further delay."
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