Middle East

Saad Hariri vows to form new cabinet, defying Hezbollah

Lebanon's embattled caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri addresses Lebanese in front of a picture of his assassinated father Rafik Hariri
Image caption Rafik Hariri said Lebanon was at "a crucial time in its history"

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said he will seek to lead a new coalition government.

Mr Hariri's unity cabinet collapsed last week after ministers from the Shia militant group, Hezbollah, and its allies resigned.

The move came as Lebanon awaits the findings of an international inquiry into the 2005 murder of ex-Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri - Saad Hariri's father.

Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate if, as expected, its members are implicated.

Controversial court

Two days of mediation by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani and Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ended in failure on Thursday. Saudi mediators said they were pulling out on Wednesday.

"They came back to [mediators] with only one demand: It is not acceptable that Saad al Hariri return to [lead] the government," Mr Hariri said, referring to the Hezbollah and its allies who want him to step down.

"They have put aside all terms of solutions and demanded Saad al Hariri be excluded [...] We will go to constitutional talks on Monday with me as a candidate," he added.

Hezbollah has denounced the UN-backed probe, calling it a US-Israeli plot, and denies any involvement in the killing. But supporters of the tribunal say it is a landmark step towards justice in the country.

On Monday, the prosecutor of the Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) submitted its first indictment in the case, but the names of the suspects will not be revealed unless charges are laid.

Correspondents say a protracted crisis is likely to follow, and there are widespread fears that it could lead to the type of sectarian violence last seen in May 2008, which left 100 people dead and brought the country close to civil war.

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