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Lebanese PM-designate briefs president of talks on government formation

01-31-2011 09:58 BJT

BEIRUT, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati briefed President Michel Sleiman over the weekend on consultations with lawmakers on forming a new government, it was reported on Sunday.

Mikati, who was appointed this week after securing 68 votes from the MPs, mostly from the March 8 coalition led by Shiite armed group Hezbollah, did not make any comments after his meeting with President Sleiman.

But a statement from the Lebanese presidency said Mikati and Sleiman agreed that the new government ought to face political and socio-economic challenges facing the country.

Lebanese newspapers reported that Mikati's cabinet would be a mix of politicians and technocrats and would likely consist of 24 to 30 members.

Mikati, a 55-year-old telecoms tycoon, held two days of talks with parliamentary blocs on forming his government. The coalition headed by outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri will not take part in a Mikati-led government, as Hariri has refused to join a cabinet led by a prime minister who he said was appointed by the Hezbollah.

The government of Hariri was brought down on Jan. 12 when Hezbollah and its allies pulled 11 ministers from the cabinet in a dispute over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Sunni statesman Rafik Hariri.

The UN-backed STL is widely expected to implicate "rogue" members of the Hezbollah in the murder. But the powerful group slammed the court as an "Israeli tool" to sow strife in Lebanon, and demanded that Lebanon put an end to its cooperation with the Netherlands-based tribunal.

The bloc headed by Hariri, however, has demanded guarantees from Mikati that his cabinet will not sever ties with the tribunal.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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