As Lebanese braced themselves for Sunday's (August 23) general election, the first in more than 20 years, the nation's rival religious groups continued a dispute that again threatens to plunge Lebanon into new waves of violence.
VARIOUS LOCATIONS, LEBANON (FILE)
BEIRUT (APRIL 16, 1972) (prod NO 4732/72)
1. (1972 ELECTION) ELECTION POSTERS IN STREETS/ PEOPLE VOTING BEIRUT (APRIL 16, 1975) (prod NO 3796/75)
2. (FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN BEIRUT AFTER CHRISTIAN GUNMEN AMBUSH BUSLOAD OF PALESTINIANS KILLING 30) SOLDIERS RUNNING IN STREETS/SOUND OF SHOTS/HEAVY PALL OF SMOKE OVER BEIRUT BEKKA VALLEY (JUNE 3, 1976) (prod NO 4948/76)
3. (6,000 SYRIANS ENTER LEBANON) SYRIAN TANKS AND TRUCKS IN DISTANCE FROM MILITIA POST MOUKHTARA (MARCH 17, 1977) (prod NO 2303/77)
4. (DRUZE AND LEFTIST LEADER KAMAL JUMBLATT SHOT DEAD IN SHOUF MOUNTAINS) CAR WINDSCREEN FULL OF BULLET HOLES/ FUNERAL AT WHICH WALID JUMBLATT DECLARED NEW DRUZE LEADER. SOUTH LEBANON (MARCH 15, 1978) (prod NO 2573/78)
5. (ISRAELIS ENTER SOUTH LEBANON AND SET UP SECURITY ZONE) ARMOURED CONVOY MOVING UP/ GUNS FIRING BEIRUT (JUNE 13-14, 1982) (prod NO 4131/82)
6. (ISRAEL INVADES LEBANON) PLANE RELEASING FLARES OVER BEIRUT/ BOMBS EXPLODING IN BEIRUT/ DAMAGE SCENES BEIRUT (AUGUST 25, 1982) (prod NO 6016/82)
7. (US MARINES ARRIVE IN BEIRUT) US WARSHIP/ MARINES COMING ASHORE. BIKHTARA (SEPTEMBER 15, 1982) (prod NO 6792/82)
8. (PRESIDENT BASHIR GEMAYEL FUBERAL AFTER CAR BOMB DEATH 14TH SEPTEMBER AT PHALANGE HQ) FUNERAL SCENES/PICTURES/ COFFIN AND MOURNERS BEIRUT (SEPTEMBER 1982) (prod NO 6951/82)
9. (AFTERMATH OF CHRISTIAN MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS AT BEIRUT REFUGEE CAMPS - SABRA/CHATILA) BODIES LYING IN BLOWN UP HOUSES/WOMAN WEEPING/WRECKAGE/BODY REMOVED FROM RUBBLE BEIRUT (OCTOBER 23-24, 1983) (prod NO 6441/83)
10. (US MARINE BARRACKS AND FRENCH PARA HQ BLOWN UP BY SUICIDE BOMBERS - 241 US MARINES AND 58 FRENCH PARAS KILLED) BLOWN UP WRECKAGE/BODY TAKEN AWAY ON STRETCHER/STARS AND STRIPES IN WRECKAGE/US AIRCRAFT CARRIER EAST LEBANON (NOVEMBER 8, 1984) (prod NO 6966/84)
11. P.M SHIMON PERES VISITS ISRAELI ARMY POSITIONS IN EASTERN LEBANON WITH DEFENCE MINISTER YITZAK RABIN WEST BEIRUT (MARCH 3, 1987) (prod NO 0732/87)
12. (SYRIANS SENT TO WEST BEIRUT TO EXERT CONTROL OVER WARRING MILITIAS) SYRIAN/LEBANESE CHECKPOINT CAR INSPECTION EAST BEIRUT (SEPTEMBER 24, 1988) (prod NO 5237/88)
13. (NEW PM MICHEL AOUN MEETS BRITISH/FRENCH/AMERICAN AMBASSADORS) AOUN HIM WITH FRENCH AMBASSADOR PAUL BLANC EAST BEIRUT (SEPTEMBER 5, 1989) (prod NO 5183/89)
14. (BOMB BLAST IN CHRISTIAN EAST BEIRUT,TYPICAL OF MANY BLASTS IN CITY) REMAINS OF CAR WHICH CARRIED BOMB/ BADLY DAMAGED CARS AND BUILDINGS BEIRUT (OCTOBER 12, 1990) (prod NO 6345/90)
15. GENERAL AOUN WITH SOLDIERS/ AOUN SAYS "NO" WHEN ASKED IF HE WILL STEP DOWN BEIRUT (OCTOBER 13, 1990) (prod NO 6341/90)
16. (GENERAL MICHEL AOUN PALACE UNDER ATTACK BY SYRIANS) ROCKET FIRE/ TANKS MOVING UP/ HIS CAPTURED TROOPS LEAVE UNDER SYRIAN ESCORT ZAHRANI/TYRE, SOUTHERN LEBANON (JULY 10, 1991) (prod NO 4320/91)
17. LEBANESE TROOPS AND TANKS ARRIVE SOUTHERN LEBANON TO DISARM PALESTINIANS/ WELCOMED BY DANCING CROWD/ FLOWERS THROWN BY GIRL AT TANK/ TROOPS ON TRAFFIC CONTROL DUTY .
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Background: As Lebanese braced themselves for Sunday's (August 23) general election, the first in more than 20 years, the nation's rival religious groups continued a dispute that again threatens to plunge Lebanon into new waves of violence.
The Christian community is demanding that the elections be postponed until all Syrian troops have been withdrawn. The Prime Minister Rashid Solh has refused to delay the poll.
The dispute threatens to split the country along sectarian lines. Some diplomats fear a civil war similar to the one that ended in 1990.
Lebanon's last general election took place in 1972, when a coalition government took power.
Sectarian tensions in Lebanon erupted in violence in April, 1975 when Christian gunmen ambushed a busload of Palestinian Arabs in Beirut, killing 30. Moslems rallied behind the Palestinian community, sparking wide-spread sectarian killings, and creating the "Green Line" battlefront which divided Beirut into the Christian east, and Moslem west.
In 1976, 6,000 Syrian troops entered Lebanon at the invitation of Christian president Suleiman Franjieh to prevent Moslem-Palestinian forces encircling East Beirut.
Israel invaded south Lebanon in 1978, and set up its so-called "security zone", introducing a new force into war-torn Lebanon.
Israel moved further into Lebanon in the early 1980's trying to contain the Palestine Liberation Organisation (P.L.O.) which had established headquarters in Beirut.
In a bid to quell the fighting, the United States (U.S.) sent 800 marines to Beirut. The U.S. involvement in Lebanon ended in 1983 when a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into a Marines' barracks killing 241 of the soldiers.
Christian leader General Aoun curbed Lebanese militia groups in Beirut's Christian sectors; enforced a sea blockade of Lebanon's Moslem-controlled ports, and declared a "war of liberation" to expel Syria's 33,000 troops. After six months of fighting, the Arab League arranged a truce, and a peace plan to curb Christian power.
Aoun rejected the plan, and his troops fought Lebanese militia for control of Christian enclaves. Aoun was eventually forced to flee to France in 1990, refusing to step down from his post as Christian leader.
Fifteen years of civil war finally drew to a close in 1990 when the Lebanese army disarmed Palestinian camps and militias in 1991, paving the way for Sunday's elections.