Lebanon appoints Hezbollah-backed PM

2011-01-25 17:22

Beirut - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman issued a decree on Tuesday appointing Hezbollah-backed candidate Najib Mikati as prime minister-designate pending the formation of a new government.

"The president informed me of the outcome of his consultations with parliamentarians, which have resulted in my appointment as prime minister," MP Mikati told reporters outside Sleiman's office.

"I will co-operate fully with all Lebanese to form a new government that protects their unity and sovereignty," he added.

Mikati, 55, received the backing of 68 of parliament's 128 MPs, who had been meeting with Sleiman since Monday after Hezbollah brought down the unity government of Saudi- and Western-backed Saad Hariri on January 12.

The remaining 60 MPs backed Hariri for another term.

Mikati's appointment has sparked widespread anger within the Sunni community. They view it as a bid by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah to sideline Hariri, the most popular Sunni leader, and even take control of the government.

According to Lebanon's complex power-sharing system, the premier must be a Sunni Muslim.