Lebanon’s pro-Syria president has bowed to the will of the majority andappointed the country’s former finance minister, who opposes Syria, to head the new government.
Relations between Emile Lahoud and Fouad Siniora are said to be frosty but the prime minister designate was nominated by all but two of the 128 MPs.
Siniora was finance minister for most of Lebanon’s post civil war period under the late Rafik al-Hariri.
He was proposed by Hairi’s son Saad who leads the majority bloc in parliament and remains close to the family. He is the chairman of one of Hariri’s banks.
Elections that ended earlier this month returned an anti-Syrian majority for the first time since Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.
But agreeing on a government is likely to prove more contentious as Lahoud can veto the prime minister’s line-up.
Highlighting the challengers facing the new government, Israeli troops and Hizbollah guerrillas have spent a second day locked in violence.
The pro-Syrian fighters killed an Israeli soldier on Wednesday in a strike on an army post in the Shebaa Farms area and drew retaliatory fire from the Israelis.
One Hizbollah guerrilla was shot and possibly killed.
And on Wednesday night Israeli aircraft dropped anti-Hizbollah leaflets overnight in the south of country and parts of Beirut addressed to the Lebanese people and government.