10/03/2005

Pro-Syrian Lebanese PM to return to government

Pro-Syrian former Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh has been re-appointed in the post, following his resignation over a week ago.

Mr Karameh resigned from his post ten days ago, following anti-Syrian protests in the country.

Tensions had been rising in the country, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri last month, which many people blamed on Syria – an accusation which has been denied.

Syrian forces have been present in the country for almost 20 years, after intervening as a peacekeeping force during the civil war, which devastated Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980. Syria has held a strong influence over the politics of the country ever since.

It has been reported that Mr Karameh would return to the post in order to form a government of "national unity". However, the opposition, are reportedly unwilling to participate in the new government until some of its demands, which include the full withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country, are met.

Earlier this week, plans were drawn up between Mr Lahoud and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to begin the withdrawal of the Syrian forces. The meeting followed increasing international pressure from a number of countries including Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia to remove the troops. The US has also repeatedly called for a full withdrawal of Syrian forces before a general election is held in the country in May. The United Nations Security Council ruled last September that all foreign forces had to be withdrawn from Lebanon.

However, on Tuesday a massive rally, organised by the Shi-ite Muslim group Hezbollah , gathered in Beirut to support Syria and express anger at what was referred to as "foreign interference". Commenting on the re-appointment of Mr Karameh, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "It is important that the Lebanese people have a government which is without foreign interference, and that acts on behalf of all Lebanese people. This new administration has a responsibility to ensure a proper investigation into the bomb attack of 14 February which killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 18 others, and to give full co-operation to the UN Commission of Enquiry. I repeat the call of the International Community that there must be full implementation of UNSCR 1559. That means taking steps to adopt an impartial electoral law, facilitate the conduct of free and fair elections according to the Lebanese constitution. And it means complete and rapid withdrawal of Syrian forces and intelligence."

(KMcA/SP)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

20 August 2015
Appeal For Witnesses Following Serious Racist Assault On Isle Of Dogs
Police have appealed for witnesses to an unprovoked racist attack on the Isle of Dogs on Saturday, 08 August. An 18-year-old man needed surgery for injuries sustained when he was hit in the face with a bottle, leaving him with permanent nerve damage.
20 August 2015
Investigation Launched After Death Of Woman Following Bus Fall
A woman has died in hospital after falling on a route E3 bus on Chiswick High Road, just after 13:30 on Tuesday, 18 August. The 77-year-old woman was taken to hospital by ambulance, where she was pronounced dead shortly before 17:00.
08 March 2005
Pro-Syrian protest held in Beirut
Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in the Lebanese capital of Beirut to protest about the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country. The protest, organised by Shi'ite Muslim group, Hizbollah, attracted thousands of pro-Syrian protestors to the city.
28 April 2011
Syrian's Royal Wedding Invite Withdrawn
Foreign Secretary William Hague has decided that the presence of the Syrian Ambassador at the Royal Wedding would be unacceptable and that he should not attend.
04 March 2005
Straw calls for Syria to pull out of Lebanon
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called for Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. The Foreign Secretary's statements follow calls from Russia and Saudi Arabia urging Syria to remove its forces from Lebanon.