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Lebanon prime minister resigns

Oct. 20, 2004 at 9:18 AM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri submitted his resignation Wednesday and declined a Presidential request to form a new government.

An official statement said President Emile Lahoud accepted the resignation of Hariri's 30-man cabinet, from which four ministers had resigned last month to protest the extension of the president's mandate by three years at Syria's behest.

"Confronting the challenges facing Lebanon necessitates a well-banded and united government that will be able to fully assume public affairs," Hariri said in a statement.

"Since these objectives could not be fulfilled due to political obstacles, I found that it is proper that I submit the resignation of my government and apologize for not forming the next one, wishing my successor all success," Hariri added.

Hariri, a self-made billionaire, has been clashing with Lahoud over political and economic reforms. Their political bickering and rifts resulted in paralyzing government performance for more than a year.

Hariri also staunchly opposed the extension of Lahoud's six-year mandate, which was supposed to expire in November.

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