Lebanese political blocs prepare to contest premiership

18 January 2011

Government collapsed on 12 January

Lebanon’s main political bloc, the March 8 coalition is preparing to contest the prime minister’s post, with the nomination of Oman Karami, a former prime minister, in a bid to oust the current caretaker, Saad Hariri.

The March 14 coalition and Hariri’s own Future Party have nominated Hariri as their candidate for the premiership.

President Michel Suleiman postponed talks on forming a new government by a week until 24 January, Reuters reports.

The delays comes as regional leaders meet in Damascus on 17 January, in an effort to ease tensions between the country’s rival factions since the collapse of Hariri’s national unity government. Eleven ministers from Hezbollah and their allies walked out of the cabinet on 12 January.

Their pullout was in protest at Hariri’s refusal to convene a cabinet session to discuss the UN-backed tribunal, which is preparing to release its indictment into the assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri in 2005. The indictment is widely expected to implicate members of the Shiite political party.

Hezbollah has been pressuring Hariri and the government to adopt a position of the tribunal before its findings are made public. This could include a denunciation of the tribunal, casting doubt on its findings, or the withdrawal of judicial and financial cooperation, says the Carnegie Middle East Centre, a Beirut-based think-tank.

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