Hariri bloc will not join new govt
Beirut, January 27, 2011
Lebanon's former premier Saad Al-Hariri and his political allies will not join the government of his successor, Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati, sources close to Hariri said on Thursday.
Mikati started talks on Thursday to form a government to succeed Hariri, who was brought down by resignations of Hezbollah ministers and their allies two weeks ago, and had urged his rival to join a government of all Lebanese factions.
"March 14 will not take part in the formation of the government," one source told Reuters, referring to Hariri's coalition.
The movement had earlier demanded Mikati maintain Lebanon's ties to a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of Hariri's father, Sunni Muslim statesman Rafik Al-Hariri, in an attempt to put pressure on Mikati from his own Sunni Muslim sect which sees the tribunal as a central political cause.
The tribunal is at the heart of a dispute between Hariri and Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, which expects the court to accuse some of its members in the killing. Mikati said that he would seek consensus in Lebanon on dealing with the court.
Mikati, a billionaire centrist lawmaker, defeated Hariri with support from Hezbollah and its allies for the post of prime minister on Tuesday, triggering protests by Hariri loyalists in some Sunni areas.
Hezbollah allies have said the priority of a new government will be to withdraw Lebanese judges and funding for the tribunal.
Hezbollah has denied involvement in the assassination of Rafik Al-Hariri and brought down his son's government two weeks ago after he refused its demand to cut ties with the court. - Reuters