Inside Report (3)

Israeli-Palestinian tensions in southern Lebanon have taken the spotlight off an even more delicate Lebanese problem - presidential elections.

The six-year term of President Elias Sarkis is ending, and the Lebanese parliament must elect a successor. Observers say they expect a spirited campaign but in the end a noncontroversial president, because of extreme sensitivity of all factions.

According to one observer, the 22,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon actually may help keep the peace and facilitate the Sept. 23 election - this despite the doubts of moderate Arab regimes, who fund the Syrian presence, about Syria's real contribution to Lebanese stability.

A bigger question is whether the various militias that control Beirut will try to pressure the parliament and influence its choice. In that event, frets one source, a new civil war could occur.m

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