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Lebanon Forms New Government, One Member Abruptly Resigns

New Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, speaks after the announcing of the new cabinet, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, June 13, 2011

Lebanon has formed a new Cabinet five months after the militant group Hezbollah and its allies forced the country's coalition government to collapse.

A government official announced the new Cabinet led by Hezbollah-backed Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Monday. The Hezbollah-led bloc holds the majority of seats in the 30-member Cabinet.

But within hours, the coalition showed signs of weakening. The new prime minister will need to replace at least one member before he presents his new government to parliament for approval.

Druze politician Talal Arslan, a Hezbollah ally, resigned from his appointment as state minister Monday, blaming the move on political differences between him and Mikati.

The country has functioned without an official government since mid-January, when the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri fell apart.

Hezbollah members and their allies withdrew from the national unity Cabinet at that time due to disagreements about a United Nations-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A sealed draft indictment submitted by U.N. prosecutors is believed to implicate Hezbollah members in the Beirut truck bombing that killed the elder Hariri.

Mikati secured the prime minister's post in January with the support of Hezbollah and other opposition blocs in parliament. Some in Lebanon fear the growing influence of his pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian backers.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated Lebanon on its formation of a new government in a telephone call Monday. Syria is a strong ally of Hezbollah.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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