Lebanon Govt will go: Hezbollah chief
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Lebanon Govt will go: Hezbollah chief

But Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah tried to ease fears that Lebanon was sliding toward chaos amid a deepening political crisis.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 18:22 IST

The Western-backed government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora will soon be ousted and replaced by a "clean" cabinet, the leader of pro-Syrian Hezbollah was quoted on Tuesday as saying.

But Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah tried to ease fears that Lebanon was sliding toward chaos amid a deepening political crisis, saying Hezbollah would preserve the country's stability.

Six ministers from Hezbollah and its allies resigned from the cabinet after the collapse at the weekend of all-party talks on the pro-Syrian camp's demand for a cabinet reshuffle that would give them effective veto power.

"This government will go," Nasrallah was quoted by As-Safir newspaper as telling supporters at a meeting on Monday. "We have no links to it after the resignation.

"There will be a new government," he said, adding that Siniora's government had "zero credibility".

Nasrallah said a "clean government" would come to rebuild Lebanon from the ruins of Hezbollah's war with Israel in July and August.

Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that Nasrallah had told the crowd that Hezbollah had so far spent $300 million in cash aid to those who lost their homes in the war, in which about 15,000 homes were destroyed and 30,000 others were damaged.

It said the group's chief said the money came from Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei is the spiritual leader to many Shi'ites in Lebanon and as such he is responsible for distributing to the needy aid donated to him by wealthy Muslims.

The government resignations brought to a head a crisis in Lebanon, which has worsened since former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri's killing last year and was heightened by the war with Israel.

A depleted cabinet, made up of mainly anti-Syrian ministers, approved on Monday draft United Nations statutes for a tribunal to try Hariri's suspected killers.

Hezbollah has threatened to stage street protests to press its demands for more power in government, drawing pledges of counter-demonstrations from anti-Syrian leaders. This has raised fears of violence.

"There are those who are trying to exaggerate (the threat of violence)," Nasrallah said. "This is our country and we have given tens of thousands of martyrs and wounded ... to protect it."

"We will not throw that away, we will preserve the civil peace and stability," he said.

Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement, enjoy overwhelming support among Lebanon's Shi'ites, the largest community in Lebanon.

They are also allied with Christian leader Michel Aoun who won an election in the Christian heartland in a parliamentary election last year but did not join the government.

The anti-Syrian coalition gathers Sunni, Druze and Christian leaders. It won a majority in the election held soon after Syria ended its 29-year military presence in Lebanon in April 2005.

First Published: Nov 14, 2006 18:17 IST