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Middle East
Hariri seeks Lebanon premiership
Caretaker leader declares bid to form new cabinet despite Hezbollah opposition but hints at accepting different outcome.
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 19:02 GMT
Saad Hariri, centre, said he will seek to form a new government as opposition pressure mounts [Reuters]

Saad Hariri, the Lebanese caretaker prime minister, has announced that he will seek to form a new government despite strong pressure from Hezbollah and its allies for him to step down.

In a nationally televised speech late on Thursday, Hariri, 40, said that he will re-contest for the post, sparking fears that the country's political crisis could descend into street battles.

"They came back to [mediators] with only one demand: it is not acceptable that Saad al-Hariri return to [lead] the government," he told supporters.

"They have put aside all solutions and demanded Saad al-Hariri be excluded ... we will go to constitutional talks on Monday with me as a candidate."

Hariri's speech comes after talks to try to end the stalemate over the formation of a new government in Lebanon came to a complete halt.

The Hezbollah-led opposition brought down Hariri's government last week after he rejected their demands to repudiate a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of his father, Rafik Hariri.

"We have said Hariri should not come back, and yes he should not come back," said Michel Aoun, a Christian leader allied with Hezbollah.

Open to different outcome

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said Hariri said in his speech that he will accept any outcome from political consultations expected to be launched by the country's president on Monday.

"He seems to feel that he might lose the battle with the Hezbollah-led opposition if they get enough votes to nominate their own prime minister and form the next government without him."

Our correspondent said Hariri blamed the opposition for the failure of his effort to preserve Lebanon's stability and security.

He also appealed for calm, saying: "Any drop of blood that falls from any Lebanese citizen is more important to me than any post."

In Lebanon's power-sharing political system, the prime minister must be Sunni Muslim, the president Maronite Christian, and parliamentary speaker a Shia.

Michel Suleiman, the Lebanese president, has called parliamentarians for consultations to name a new prime minister after which he will ask the candidate with most backing to form a new government.

It was not clear whether Hariri will get enough support on Monday.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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