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Lebanese Lawmakers Back Hezbollah PM Candidate

Source: VOA

A majority of Lebanese lawmakers have voted to support a candidate backed by Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah for the country's next prime minister.

As violent protests broke out in northern Lebanon Tuesday, 68 members of the 128-seat parliament voted for Najib Mikati to replace acting Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who received the remaining 60 votes. Mr. Mikati also served as prime minister of Lebanon in 2005.

Thousands of Mr. Hariri's supporters gathered in Tripoli for what they had called peaceful "day of rage" protests.

Demonstrators attacked a truck belonging to the Al Jazeera news channel and set it on fire. Protesters also burned pictures of Mr. Mikati.

On Monday, Sunni lawmakers accused Hezbollah of carrying out a "coup" aimed at forcing an Iranian form of religious government on the Lebanese people.

Mr. Hariri has said he will not participate in any new government led by a Hezbollah-backed candidate.

Hezbollah flag

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington is monitoring developments in Beirut. But Crowley added that a bigger role for Hezbollah could complicate diplomatic ties and impact ongoing U.S. aid.

Some pro-Hariri demonstrators angry about the recent developments have used burning tires to block roads leading into and out of the capital, Beirut.

Earlier this month, Hezbollah and its allies resigned from the coalition government of Prime Minister Hariri, causing it to collapse.

The resignations followed tensions over a U.N.-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the father of the interim prime minister. Media reports have indicated the tribunal will indict Hezbollah members, but the group denies having had a role in the attack.

Hezbollah's leader said Sunday the group will seek a partnership government if its candidate wins a parliamentary majority.

... Payvand News - 01/25/11 ... --

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