Search on for new Lebanese PM

Lebanon has begun searching for a new prime minister after Umar Karami's surprise resignation of government under intense public pressure on Monday.

    The opposition is calling for a 'neutral' interim government

    But after the euphoria in downtown Beirut that followed Karami's announcement, apprehension was rising on Tuesday about the future.

    With memories of Lebanon's devastating 1975-1990 civil war still strong, some Lebanese feared that the political uncertainty could bring instability to Lebanon once again.

    "The fall of the government is not the end of the road," Al-Mustaqbal newspaper cautioned.

    The opposition, which has intensified its peaceful demonstrations since the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri on 14 February, has vowed to keep up the pressure until the Syrian army and its intelligence agencies have left Lebanon.

    A presidential spokesman told AFP that President Emile Lahud has granted MPs 48 hours to decide on a candidate for the post of prime minister, which is customarily given to a member of the Sunni Muslim community. Lahud is considered close to Damascus.

    Appeal to Syria

    Speaking to Aljazeera, Walid Jumblat - the prominent Druze opposition MP - called for the formation of a "neutral" transitional government which should oversee a partial withdrawal of Syrian troops before elections due by the end of May.

    Jumblat also called for the resignation of President Lahud, and said tomorrow's opposition meeting would decide whether to enter into consultations with Lahud on forming a new government.

    Jumblat called on Lahud to
    resign from his position

    He told Aljazeera that Lahud's resignation would "open a new page between Lebanon and Syria".

    He said Lebanon refused to "remain hostage" to Syria, which first sent its troops into its smaller neighbour a year into the civil war and still has about 14,000 men on the ground.

    "We cannot accept to be fooled all the time. This is the fifth so-called Syrian army redeployment," he said of a recently promised Syrian troop move that has yet to be carried out.

    Hizb Allah factor

    Ibrahim Hana Dhahir, a minister in the former government, told that he thought a Syrian pullout was a likely prospect.

    "If you listen to what they are announcing I think they (the Syrians) are expecting a full redeployment," he said during a telephone interview.

    With many calling for the implementation of UN resolution 1559 which calls for the disbandment of Hizb Allah, some wonder what will happen to the political party and militia.

    "Hizb Allah till now have always had a very positive position ... their attitude is very responsible. I don't think Hizb Allah is the problem," Dhahir said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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