Thousands of Sunnis waved flags and burned tires Tuesday in a "day of rage" to protest gains by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which is on the brink of controlling Lebanon's next government.
The Iranian-backed group, considered a terrorist organization by Washington, secured support in parliament Monday to name its own candidate, former premier Najib Mikati, for the next prime minister. The militant group's Western-backed opponents maintain that having an Iranian proxy in control of Lebanon's government would be disastrous and lead to international isolation. Hezbollah's Sunni rivals held protests in different parts of Lebanon, mainly in the northern city of Tripoli, the capital Beirut and the main highway linking the capital with the southern port city of Sidon.
The largest gathering was in Tripoli, calling on Mikati not to accept the post and shouting slogans backing caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Mikati urged calm on Tuesday and said he wanted to represent all of Lebanon.
"This is a democratic process," he told reporters.
Hezbollah brought down Hariri's Western-backed government on Jan. 12 when he refused the group's demand to cease cooperation with a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.