There are fears that the collapse of the Lebanese coalition government could lead to sectarian violence like that seen in 2008. Following the resignation of 11 Hezbollah allied ministers, incumbent Prime Minister Saad Hariri is likely to lead a caretaker government until a new solution is found. The 14 March Movement supports both him and the UN investigation into the murder of his father which prompted the walk-out.
Ahmed Fatfat of the 14 March Movement said: “The final decision of the 14th March Political Movement is that we’re not going to take to the streets in protest or anything like that. We’re leaving it to the authorities to uphold law and order.”
The timing of the move was widely seen as a Hezbollah political masterstroke, forcing the Lebanese Prime Minister to cut short his trip to Washington where he was holding talks with President Obama. The US State Department, which supports the UN investigation into the murder of Rafik Hariri, has condemned the walk-out.
US State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley said: “We believe that all of Lebanon’s leaders have a responsibility to serve the people of Lebanon. Trying to bring down the government is an attempt to undermine the special tribunal and it is an abdication of that responsibility.”
As Mr Hariri heads home via Paris, the atmosphere in Lebanon remains tense.
Ali El Takach, reporting from Beirut for euronews, said: “The contract holding Lebanon’s government together has fallen apart. The coming hours will determine if this age-old conflict is about to start up all over again.”