Nasrallah: Hezbollah will not control next Lebanon government
Lebanese president taps Hezbollah-backed candidate as next prime minister; Lebanese army reportedly arrests security officials of former PM Saad Hariri as demonstrations against Hezbollah ensue.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Tuesday that his organization will not be the leader of Lebanon's new government, despite Hezbollah's backing of the new Lebanese prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati.
"Hezbollah will not lead the next government… Najib Mikati is not a Hezbollah man," Nasrallah said in a televised address to the people of Lebanon, in a bid to try to calm the ensuing riots in the country by supporters of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose government was recently toppled by Hezbollah.
Nasrallah assured that prime minister-designate Najib Mikati is an unbiased candidate, and said that a government with Mikati's leadership is an opportunity to calm the political crisis in the country.
The Hezbollah chief urged Mikati to form a national partnership government and called on Saad Hariri and his aides to stand by Mikati and help him in forming a unity government "for the sake of Lebanon's security."
"We have supported the nomination of ... Mikati and we call on him to form a national partnership government. The Lebanese have a chance to close ranks," said Nasrallah.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was defeated by Mikati at the end of a two-day consultation to choose a prime minister. Hariri has said he would not take part in the government if Mikati won.
Hezbollah and its allies toppled the government of the Western-backed Hariri two weeks ago, after he refused to reject an international tribunal into the 2005 assassination of his father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The United Nations-backed tribunal is widely expected to name members of Hezbollah in upcoming indictments, which many fear could reignite hostilities between Lebanon's rival Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.
Meanwhile, the Arabic language Al Arabiya TV network reported Tuesday that the Lebanese army has arrested three senior officials in former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's security staff on suspicion of incitement.
Hundreds of supporters of Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri waved flags and burned tires across the country on Tuesday, calling for a "day of wrath" after Hezbollah won enough support for its pick to replace him as premier.
Hezbollah's Sunni rivals, who support Hariri, demonstrated for a second day across the country including the capital Beirut and the main highway linking the capital with the southern port city of Sidon. A senior military official said several armed men fired in the air in west Beirut, but the army intervened and dispersed them.
The largest gathering Tuesday was in the northern city of Tripoli, a predominantly Sunni area and a hotbed of fundamentalists where thousands of people converged at a major square. Al-Jazeera said none of its crew was injured when protesters attacked the station's van.
Soldiers also clashed with demonstrators in the town of Naameh, south of Beirut, and two civilians were wounded, security officials said.