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Hezbollah Leader: Opposition Will Be Ready for Parliamentary Consultations Monday

Pictures of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah decorate the streets in many parts of southern Lebanon (File Photo)

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says the opposition will go to parliamentary consultations on Monday to choose a new Lebanese prime minister if the discussions go forward. The Shi’ite leader rejects the possibility of caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri heading a new government, but says his coalition is not calling for a cabinet that excludes any party.

In a half-hour televised address Sunday evening, Hassan Nasrallah said his bloc, known as March 8th, respects the right of all Lebanese to be represented in the new government.

He said the opposition will go to the parliamentary consultations on Monday and Tuesday, and would decide Sunday who their bloc will support for prime minister.

Nasrallah said that if an opposition-backed candidate becomes prime minister, he hopes he will be given the opportunity to form a government in which everyone participates.

Referring to the political crisis over who will be the candidate for prime minister, Nasrallah said that if the two camps disagree on who it will be, that does not mean that the opposition wants to exclude a particular party. He added that at a minimum, the new cabinet must be cooperative, inclusive and open.

The two sides in Lebanon have been in a stalemate since Hezbollah pulled its ministers out of the cabinet on January 12th, causing Saad Hariri's government to collapse. Mr. Hariri's allies in the March 14th coalition say he is their only candidate for prime minister. The opposition March 8th has rejected Mr. Hariri. Prominent pro-Syrian politicians, including former Prime Minister Omar Karami, are said to be potential candidates.

It is unclear which side has the 65-seat majority needed to put their candidate in the premiership. Most analysts say the two sides are virtually tied with 64 parliament members each. But it is unknown how many deputies Druze leader Walid Jumblatt will be able to deliver to either side. Those votes, analysts say, will be decisive.

On Sunday, Hassan Nasrallah lashed out again at the U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. He said Hezbollah would not succumb to political demands, saying this issue is over for them and not open for negotiation.

The tribunal's prosecutor handed over his indictment to the pre-trial judge last Monday. It is widely believed that members of Hezbollah will be implicated in the assassination. Media reports of the group’s involvement in Mr. Hariri’s death precipitated the political crisis that led to the government's collapse.