The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heat on master, sweat in Beirut

Beirut, April 16 (Reuters): Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri submitted his resignation yesterday, a move that a senior official said was triggered partly by mounting US pressure on Lebanon’s neighbour and political master Syria.

“Prime Minister Hariri presented his resignation this evening and tomorrow (Wednesday) morning the President will begin his consultations with the deputies for a new government,” Rafik Shlala, media adviser to President Emile Lahoud, said.

Government changes had been widely expected for a while due to domestic political tensions, but the resignation occurred as Washington turned up the heat on Damascus, which holds broad political and military sway in Lebanon.

Arafat Hijazy, an adviser to Lebanon’s parliament speaker Nabih Berri, said US threats against Syria had helped fuel the resignation and the setting up of a new broader government.

He said the charges had pushed Lebanon toward forming a government with a broader popular base “in order to strengthen the domestic front and to create resistance for any penetration that might happen to dismantle the Lebanese-Syrian front”.

Lebanese political commentator Joseph Qoseify said that meant Christians would be “more widely represented” in a new government. Lebanese Christians are the backbone of opposition to Syria’s grip on its smaller neighbour.

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