New Lebanese Prime Minister Named

BEIRUT (Combined Sources)—Lebanese President Gen. Michel Suleyman on Tuesday named opposition-backed Najib Miqati as the country’s new prime minister after last week’s resignation by 11 ministers, which essentially toppled the government.

The appointment was made after mandatory discussions with parliamentary factions revealed that Miqati had the support of 68 members of parliament, while the former prime minister Saad Hariri had 60 supporters in parliament.

Suleyman invited Parliament Speaker Nebbih Berri to the presidential palace and announced his appointment.

In his speech, the newly-appointed prime minister announced that he will begin consultations on forming a new government on Thursday, pledging to include the country’s main political forces in the government. He also announced that the soon-to-formed government “will be a gift to the memory of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.”

Last week’s government resignations were fueled by a US-backed and UN-led tribunal probing the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, which planned to point the finger at the current Lebanese opposition figures. Lebanon’s Minister of Industry, Apraham Dedeyan, was among the 11 ministers who resigned.

Our sister publication in Beirut, Aztag, reported Tuesday that during consultations with the president, Armenian bloc representatives Hagop Pakradouni and Artur Nazarian expressed their support for Miqati, expressed hope that a “national salvation” government will be formed and will include all factions of Lebanese life. At the same time, the pro-government Armenian Consensus bloc threw its support behind former prime minister Hariri during the consultations.

Protests broke out in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon instigated by the pro-Hariri factions, the most violent of which took place in Tripoli where protesters set an Al-Jazeera news van on fire in the city Nour square, claiming that the Qatar-based television network backed Mitati’s bid for the premiership.

The Lebanese Army increased its presence in Lebanon’s urban areas, as Hariri called on his supporters to stop demonstrations.

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