Lebanese President Asks Hariri to Lead Caretaker Government
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri says formal consultations on forming a new government are expected to begin Monday.
He commented Thursday after President Michel Suleiman asked Prime Minister Saad Hariri to lead a caretaker government, following Wednesday's collapse of the country's coalition cabinet. President Suleiman's office asked Mr. Hariri to remain in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.
On Wednesday, opposition Hezbollah ministers and their allies resigned in protest of a United Nations-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of the country's former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri.
They represented 11 members of the 30-member cabinet.
Media reports say the U.N. indictments will likely target Hezbollah members. Hezbollah denies involvement in the killing of Rafiq Hariri and has been pushing the government to renounce the probe.
Mr. Hariri, who is the son of the deceased prime minister, is due to discuss his government's collapse Thursday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Wednesday's resignations took place as Mr. Hariri was meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. A White House statement said Mr. Obama commended Mr. Hariri for his "steadfast leadership and efforts to reach peace, stability and consensus in Lebanon under difficult circumstances."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Hezbollah's actions are a "transparent effort" to "subvert justice and undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and independence."
Observers say the immediate trigger for Hezbollah's withdrawal was the failure of talks between Syria, which backs the Shi'ite militant group, and Saudi Arabia, a Hariri ally, to try to find a compromise over the U.N. tribunal.
1975-1990: a devastating civil war erupts
1982: Israel invades Lebanon
2005: car bombing kills five-times PM Rafik Hariri
2006: Israel wages a devastating war in Lebanon
2008: a brief Sunni-Shiite sectarian fighting flares up
Article by VOA News