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Hezbollah candidate to form new Lebanese government

JTA

January 25, 2011 | 9:26 am

Najib Miqati

Najib Miqati

The choice of Hezbollah’s candidate for prime minister has led to protests in Lebanon.

Najib Miqati, a billionaire and former prime minister, will set about forming a government after being chosen by Hezbollah and its allies, reportedly backed by Iran and Syria.

Miqati won 68 seats in Lebanon’s 128-member Parliament. He succeeds Saad Hariri, whose government was backed by the United States and France. Hariri’s father, Rafik, was assassinated in 2005 while holding the same position.

Saad Hariri was removed as prime minister after Hezbollah and its allies withdrew from his government. He said he will lead the opposition against the new government.

Protesters demonstrated in streets throughout the country, burning tires and clashing with police, in what is being called a Day of Rage by Hariri supporters,.

Hezbollah officials are expected to be named in indictments by a United Nations-backed tribunal into the assassination of Rafik Hariri. Hezbollah calls the tribunal, which was named in 2007, a tool of the United States and Israel, The New York Times reported.

In Israel, government officials said they are closely monitoring the situation in Lebanon but have not called up more troops. Israel fought a war with Hezbollah in 2006.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Israeli military officials say Hezbollah has since rearmed, building a stockpile of more than 40,000 rockets, including many that can reach far into Israel.

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