Tue, Jan 25, 2011 | Lebanon Now | Jerusalem Post
Hizbullah Candidate Mikati to Form New Lebanese Government
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman appointed ex-premier Najib Mikati today as Lebanon’s new prime minister and tasked him with forming a new government.
The appointment of Najib Mikati, backed by the March 8 alliance, has set off a “day of rage” across Lebanon by Sunni Muslims who gathered in protests and burned tires and a van belonging to Al-Jazeera to protest the Shi’ite group’s rising power.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday said that Lebanon should give Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati a chance, saying,
“We aim to cooperate with each other to cross this dangerous phase.”
“Today there is a new opportunity. Threats against Mikati will be useless,” he added during a speech delivered on the occasion of Arba’een, a Shia Muslim holiday commemorating the anniversary of the passage of 40 days following Imam Hussein’s martyrdom. [Read more, Lebanon Now, Tue, Jan 25, 2011]
“We saw in Najib Mitaki’s apointment to the governing authority an opportunity for Lebanon to get out of the crisis in which it has been entrenched. Mikati is not the Hizbullah candidate. Anyone who says this is distorting reality and fooling the public.”
“The resulting new government is not, in any way, a Hizbullah-government. I wish it was. Anyone who says so aids in the incitement against Hizbullah coming primarily from the United States and Israel,” Nasrallah added. [Read more, Jerusalem Post, Tue, Jan 25, 2011]
The billionaire businessman won a majority of parliament support in two days of voting, defeating Western-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri as the candidate for the next prime minister. The new government could be controlled by Hizbullah and its allies and give the group an unprecedented level of political power in Lebanon. The events of the past few days drew warnings from the US that its support for Lebanon could be in jeopardy, demonstrating the risks of international isolation if Hizbullah pushes its power too far.
Hizbullah’s Sunni rivals, who support Hariri, demonstrated for a second day across the country including the capital Beirut and the main highway linking the capital with the southern port city of Sidon. A senior military official said several armed men fired in the air in west Beirut, but the army intervened and dispersed them.
Many fear Lebanon’s political crisis could re-ignite sectarian fighting similar to Shi’ite-Sunni street clashes that killed 81 people in Beirut in 2008. But besides the protest in Tripoli, the gatherings Tuesday were mostly localized and not hugely disruptive. [Read more, Jerusalem Post, Tue, Jan 25, 2011]