Lebanon political crisis deepens as Shiite ministers quit
All five Hizbullah and Amal ministers resigned from Premier Fouad Saniora’s government, local television stations reported on Saturday.
Their resignations came after the country’s top rival leaders failed to reach agreement on the formation of a national unity cabinet. The move by the pro-Syrian ministers also came two days before a cabinet meeting to endorse the U.N. draft text of the international tribunal to try former PM Rafik Hariri’s killers.
The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International described Saturday's session as "very strained, particularly over the issue of the international tribunal."
LBCI said Hizbullah representatives to the talks promised that the Shiite movement will not resort to street protests Monday as promised by its chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Politicians emerged from the meeting, with some saying the talks failed to achieve a breakthrough.
In a sign of worsening tensions, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun said the talks had failed to produce an agreement. "The session was adjourned without assigning a new date for another round of talks," Aoun told reporters, according to the AP.
"We failed to reach an agreement or understanding and consequently we left (the talks)," said legislator Butros Harb.
Other politicians tried to downplay the breakup of the talks. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, for instance, acknowledged the dialogue had failed to reach any agreement but suggested the talks would resume at a later stage. "We want to continue consultations until the last minute," he said.
Saturday's session was the fourth this week aimed at solving differences between Lebanon's bickering politicians.
The anti-Syrian March 14 Camp denied Saturday that it had accepted giving Hizbullah and its allies effective veto power over key decisions in the cabinet in exchange for the opponents approving the international tribunal's draft in Hariri's murder.