Hezbollah pledges unity government

Hassan Nasrallah seeks to calm tensions in Lebanon day before Lebanon begins talks to decide on next prime minister.

    Hezbollah ruled out nominating Hariri for reappointment but Hariri has said he will run for a second term [EPA]

    Hezbollah has pledged to include its political rivals in Lebanon's next government if its candidate for prime minister wins a parliamentary majority in an upcoming vote.

    Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, said on Sunday that the Shia group and its allies want to form a national unity government, rather than seeking to govern alone.

    Nasrallah made the comments in a brief televised speech from an undisclosed location, a day before talks begin in Lebanon to pick a new prime minister.

    "If our candidate is successful, we will ask him to form a government of national partnership in which all parties will participate. We respect everyone's right to representation," Nasrallah said.

    Nasrallah appeared to be trying to calm tensions in Lebanon, where a rift between his group and a Western-backed bloc led by the caretaker prime minister, Saad Hariri, is deepening.

    Tight vote

    Hezbollah and its allies have ruled out nominating Hariri for reappointment. However, Hariri has said he will nonetheless run for a second term.

    The vote is expected to be tight, and experts estimated the country's 128 parliamentarians were equally divided between Hariri and Hezbollah's candidate.

    Walid Jumblatt, Lebanon's Druze leader, who announced on Friday that he was siding with Hezbollah in the political feud, now stands to play kingmaker with his 11-member strong bloc.

    Hariri's government collapsed on January 12 when Hezbollah and its allies pulled 11 ministers from the cabinet in a dispute over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is probing the 2005 murder of Saad's father and the country’s former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri.

    Nasrallah, who has accused the Netherlands-based tribunal of being under US-Israeli control, has said he expects it will implicate Hezbollah members and warned of grave repercussions.

    Many fear Hezbollah will react violently if its members are indicted, as is widely expected.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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