Lebanon

Anti-Hezbollah demos ahead of appointment of Lebanese PM

Reuters/Sharif Karim

Hundreds of people are gathering throughout Lebanon to take part in demonstrations against the likely appointment Tuesday of a Hezbollah-backed businessman as Prime Minister. Sunni-Muslim MPs called for protests after accusing Hezbollah of staging a coup against outgoing premier Saad Hariri.

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Convoys of vehicles and buses started arriving in Tripoli early Tuesday morning.

Who is Najib Mikati?
Reuters

Security forces were deployed, and schools and stores were shut in town and in surrounding areas.

Demonstrations already broke out Monday in Sunni regions throughout the country, where protesters vented their anger at the likely appointment of Najib Mikati to replace Saad Hariri as Prime Minister.

Sunni MPs called for demonstrations Tuesday against the appointment of Mikati, a Sunni billionaire tycoon who is backed by the Shia-Muslim party Hezbollah.

President Michel Sleiman is expected to announce the appointment Tuesday, after speaking with all the groups in parliament.

Sunni lawmakers say that Hezbollah imposed Mikati on parliament, and they see as a bid by the Iranian-backed party to take control of the government by sidelining the popular Hariri.

Hariri’s government collapsed on 12 January when 11 ministers from Hezbollah and its allies walked out in protest over a UN-backed probe into the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, the ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

Hezbollah has denounced the investigation as part of a US-Israeli conspiracy, and says it fears party members will be implicated.

Saad Hariri has ruled out joining a cabinet controlled by Hezbollah.

Washington, which considers Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, expressed "great concerns" Monday at the likelihood of the party playing a major role in the new government.

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