Lot of News from Lebanon

Lebanese business leaders plan strike to demand government resign

BEIRUT, Feb 23 (AFP) - Leaders of Lebanon’s banking, industrial and commercial sectors said they would shut down next Monday to demand the country’s pro-Syrian government resign and that a “neutral” one replace it.

The strike would coincide with an expected vote of confidence in parliament, two weeks after the murder of former premier Rafiq Hariri in a bomb blast for which the opposition has pinned blame on the government and its Syrian backers.

“The economic authorities call for the formation of a new and neutral government which has the people’s support, and the trust of the international community and Arab countries,” the private sector said in a statement carried by the official news agency ANI.

Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh said on Wednesday he was ready to quit in the face of intense pressure to end Syrian domination of his country and find the killers of ex-premier Rafik Hariri.

Karameh spoke as US President George Bush kept up the pressure, repeating a joint demand he and French President Jacques Chirac made earlier this week for Syria to withdraw its troops immediately.

“I am ready for the resignation once we agree on a new government in order to avoid a vacuum,” Karameh said.

Syria Committed to Withdraw From Lebanon

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria will withdraw troops from mountain and coastal areas in Lebanon in line with a 1989 agreement, Lebanon’s defense minister said Thursday amid international pressure following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Lebanese Defense Minister Abdul-Rahim Murad said the troops will be withdrawn to the eastern Bekaa Valley on the Syrian border, but he gave no timeframe. - GuardianUnlimited

In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily Monday, Jumblatt blamed the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on Lebanese security officials backed by Syria.

Jumblatt said Hariri told him in a meeting two weeks ago he felt they both were in danger.

The Druze leader told WND he is calling for an “uprising for independence” demanding Damascus withdraw its nearly 20,000 troops from the country and urging the current pro-Syrian government to step down.

“We ask all in Lebanon to claim independence from Syria peacefully and democratically,” said Jumblatt.

Jumblatt, in conjunction with other major figures of the anti-Syrian movement, put out a statement Friday urging the “dismissal of the government, which has no legitimacy, and the formation of a transitional administration to protect the Lebanese people and ensure the immediate withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon to pave the way for holding free and honest legislative elections.”


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