Mikati searching for partners in Lebanon

Feb. 3, 2011 at 2:02 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Lebanon's next prime minister wants full representation in the next government, though opponents say his relationship with a U.N. tribunal is a concern.

Hezbollah led opposition members in a mass resignation from the government Jan. 12, bringing down the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hezbollah is upset with Hariri's support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a panel investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Saad Hariri's father.

Hezbollah-supported Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati is trying to form a new government that includes a true representation of all political groups in Lebanon.

Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, said after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman that active participation was the best political course for Beirut, Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reports.

"I endorse participation and I have spoken about a government of national salvation without going into the issue of shares (of ministerial portfolios)," he was quoted as saying.

Sources for the newspaper add that Mikati might expand the Cabinet so all major religious and political groups are represented.

Mikati is expected to meet with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in the coming days to discuss Lebanon's political future. Mikati's opponents said they wouldn't take part in a government where Hezbollah holds political influence.

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