Lebanese ministers resign office

  1. Lebanese ministers resign office
    Lebanon's Prime Minister Omar Karami has announced he and his government are resigning, two weeks after the murder of former PM Rafik Hariri.
    The move came as crowds protested in Beirut, calling for Syrian troops to leave the country.

    The Lebanese parliament was also debating an opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in the government.

    "I am keen the government will not be a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country," Mr Karami said.

    "I declare the resignation of the government that I had the honour to head. May God preserve Lebanon."

    His announcement came after a break in the parliamentary debate, which was being televised live.

    A cheer went up among more than 10,000 protesters who had gathered in Martyrs Square to demand the resignation of the government and the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

    They had defied a ban on demonstrations, which Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh said had been made on the grounds of "supreme national interests".

    'Internal affair'

    Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud accepted the resignation of the government and asked it to continue in a caretaker capacity, a statement said.

    Syria's immediate reaction was non-committal, saying only that it was "an internal affair" for Lebanon.

    Both Mr Karami's government and the Syrian government have been accused of involvement in the 14 February assassination of Mr Hariri - charges they deny.

    Earlier, Mr Karami - who took office after Mr Hariri resigned last year - said those who accused his government of involvement in the killing "committed a grave injustice".

    Before the debate opened, MPs observed a minute's silence in memory of Mr Hariri. "I accuse this government of incitement, negligence and shortcomings at the least, and of covering up its planning at the most... if not executing," the attack, said former minister Marwan Hamadeh.

    We want to see free and fair elections take place [in Lebanon] this spring
    David Satterfield
    US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

    Protesters were able to watch the live debate from giant TV screens in Beirut's Martyrs Square. Many had spent the night in the square, wrapped in blankets or under tents, before the ban came into force at 0500 (0300 GMT).

    But, despite army checkpoints around the city, people were still able to get to the square throughout the day and the protest was passing off peacefully, said our correspondent.

    Many schools and businesses remained shut across the country, following a call by the opposition for a general strike.

    Troop withdrawal

    Earlier, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield met Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud.

    He said he reiterated Washington's demand that Syria comply with UN resolution 1559, passed in September, calling for the withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon.

    "We want to see free and fair elections take place [in Lebanon] this spring," he said.

    "It's important that steps take place on the ground prior to those elections including the beginning of the implementation of Resolution 1559."

    Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa has rejected calls for a full withdrawal from Lebanon, saying this is something not even the Lebanese want.

    Damascus said last week that it would draw it troops back from western Lebanon to areas nearer the Syrian border, though it did not specify when.

    Story from BBC NEWS:
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   URO-RN
    Hopefully Syria will leave and this whole issue will be resolved without any more bloodshed.
  4. by   BeachNurse
    Lebanon Govt. Quits, Pressure Mounts on Syria
    Email this Story

    Feb 28, 1:19 PM (ET)

    By Nadim Ladki

    BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's Syrian-backed government collapsed Monday, piling more pressure on Damascus, already under fire from the United States and Israel.

    Prime Minister Omar Karami, under opposition fire since the Feb. 14 assassination of his predecessor Rafik al-Hariri, told parliament his government was resigning to ensure that it "does not become an obstacle to the good of the country."

    The news delighted thousands of flag-waving demonstrators who had defied an official ban to protest at Syrian domination of Lebanon. Banks, schools and businesses had closed after an opposition call for an anti-Syrian general strike.

    Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt said the "people have won" and called for calm. "Today we are at a new turning point in the history of the country," he said.

    A Syrian official source, who asked not to be named, said only: "This is an internal affair. Lebanon has the constitutional channels that govern these issues."

    Syria plays a dominant role in Lebanon and maintains 14,000 troops there. Pressure has been growing within Lebanon and from abroad for a complete military withdrawal.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he thought Washington might eventually resort to military action against his country.

    "Washington has imposed sanctions on us and isolated us in the past, but each time the circle hasn't closed around us," Assad told Italy's Repubblica newspaper.

    "If, however, you ask me if I'm expecting an armed attack, well I've seen it coming since the end of the war in Iraq."

    Asked if an attack was imminent, Assad said: "I don't think so, for now it's just skirmishing. True, the White House language, if looked at in detail, leads one to expect a campaign similar to the one that led up to attack on Iraq."


    Syria has come under intense diplomatic fire from Washington since Hariri's killing in a huge bomb blast in Beirut. Many Lebanese blame Syria, which denies responsibility.

    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State David Satterfield, visiting Lebanon, said Washington wanted "concrete steps" from Syria on insurgent infiltrations in Iraq, the presence of Palestinian militants in Damascus and of Syrian troops in Lebanon.

    "Syria should share with the rest of the Middle East, with the rest of the international community, the hope that we have for a stable, prosperous, free Iraq," he said.

    In a move viewed by some as an attempt to placate Washington, Syria played a role in the capture of Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti, accused of directing the Iraqi insurgency from Syria.

    Iraqi government sources said he was seized by Syrian Kurds in northeast Syria and handed to Iraqi Kurds before being taken into custody by Iraq's forces. Syrian Kurds are tightly watched by Damascus and are unlikely to have acted without its approval.

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw welcomed the apparent Syrian role in the capture and said he hoped Damascus was "reassessing its strategic position." But he said terrorists in Iraq were still operating from Syrian soil.

    Israel launched a campaign Monday to seek international support for its allegations that Syria was linked to a Palestinian suicide bombing that killed five Israelis Friday and punctured a Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.

    Israel hopes that giving foreign diplomats a glimpse of its intelligence on Friday's attack on a Tel Aviv nightclub will encourage a London conference on Palestinian reforms, set for Tuesday, to push Palestinians to crack down on militant groups.

    Israel says Syria-based leaders of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad ordered the bombing and, since it hosts them, the Syrian government therefore shares responsibility.

    Assad dismissed Israel's accusation as "pointlessly offensive" and denied any role in the attack, which shattered a Feb. 8 truce declared by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim said Sunday it was "certainly possible" Israel could strike at Syria, but Vice Premier Shimon Peres signaled Israel was likely to hold fire while Washington led its own pressure campaign.

    Israel last attacked in Syria when warplanes bombed a suspected base used by Palestinian militants in October 2003 after a suicide bombing that killed 23 Israelis.

    A Lebanese opposition parliamentarian called for popular protests to continue in Lebanon until Syria quits the country.

    "The battle is long, and this is the first step, this is the battle for freedom, sovereignty and independence," Ghattas Khouri told protesters after news of Karami's resignation.
  5. by   BeachNurse
    Bumping for spacenurse
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    Quote from BeachNurse
    Bumping for spacenurse

    I'll put another article. Basically the same exciting and hopeful news.
    This has an interview with a reporter who lives in Lebanon.

    Pro Syrian Lebanese Government Resigns Amid Mass Street Protests
    Tuesday, March 1st, 2005


    In an unexpected move, the Prime Minister of Lebanon announced his resignation in front of the country's parliament Monday, effectively terminating the rule of the current Syrian-backed government, as tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated outside. We go to Beirut to get a report...
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Mar 2, '05 : Reason: wrong link