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Fears grow as Hezbollah-backed candidate set to lead Lebanon

Fears grow as Hezbollah-backed candidate set to lead Lebanon
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Lebanon’s political crisis has erupted onto the streets, raising fears of a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence.

Supporters of out-going caretaker premier Saad Hariri have been staging nationwide protests. They are furious that a candidate backed by the Hezbollah-led opposition has now been asked to form a new government.

“We send a message to Najib Mikati,” said an angry Sunni Muslim demonstrating in Beirut, naming Lebanon’s new leader, who has been appointed by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

“He is not the prime minister. We are warning him that we, the Sunnis of Beirut, will only accept Saad al-Hariri.”

But Hariri’s government collapsed in a dispute over the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of his father, Rafik. And his ally turned rival Mikati won the support of a majority of MPs.

Hariri’s supporters have designated Tuesday a “day of anger”. He insists he won’t serve in a Hezbollah-dominated administration.

Critics accuse the Shia Islamist movement of carrying out a pro-Iranian coup by trying to get Mikati, himself a Sunni, into the premiership.