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Karami Resumes Premiership in Lebanon


Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has reappointed Omar Karami as prime minister, just 10 days after Mr. Karami resigned in the face of massive anti-Syrian street demonstrations. The move to re-appoint him has angered opposition politicians.

Mr. Karami resumes office as political crisis grips Lebanon in the aftermath of the assassination of his predecessor, Rafik Hariri, on February 14.

Mr. Karami told reporters he wants to form a government of national unity, and he is inviting the opposition to join the cabinet he plans to form over the next week.

Mr. Karami says the opposition will be responsible for what he terms "catastrophe" and "destruction" if they reject his call for dialogue.

But as he spoke, opposition leaders vowed they will have nothing to do with his government, and they are repeating demands for an independent international investigation into the killing of Mr. Hariri, who resigned as prime minister in October to protest an extension of the term of Syrian-backed President Lahoud.

One Lebanese analyst, political science professor Sami Baroudi of the Lebanese American University, says the opposition sees the hand of Syria behind the Karami reappointment.

"I don't think they have a problem with Karami but they think Karami is too amenable to pressure from the Syrians and from President Lahoud," said Sami Baroudi.

The impasse could affect Lebanon's plans to hold elections for a new parliament by the end of May, as the Karami government plans to introduce a new election law ahead of the voting, and would like opposition support.

President Lahoud tapped Mr. Karami after consultations with lawmakers. The opposition, which holds about one third of the seats in the 128-member parliament, refused to nominate a candidate.

The political drama unfolds as Syria steps up redeployment of its 14,000 troops in Lebanon. Syria has been under intense international pressure, led by the United States, to get its soldiers and spies out of Lebanon before an election is held.

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