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Pro-Syrian Lebanese Government Resigns

1 March 2005 -- Lebanon's prime minister announced the resignation of his pro-Syrian government yesterday as tens of thousands of opposition demonstrators rallied outside parliament.

President Emile Lahoud accepted Omar Karami's resignation yesterday and asked him to continue in a caretaker capacity.

The parliament convened for a vote of confidence two weeks after the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who had resigned in October 2004 in a dispute over Syria's role in the country.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the resignation is an "opportunity" for a new government representing the country's diversity.

He said the new government will have the responsibility of implementing free and fair elections.

Many in Lebanon accused Syria and Karami's government of being behind the slaying and called for Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Both governments deny involvement in the assassination.

The demonstrators broke into singing the national anthem when the news of the government's resignation was relayed outside.

A Lebanese opposition leader told the crowd that the street protests should continue until "the total withdrawal of Syria."


Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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