Lebanon Government Falls

Lebanon‘s unity government has collapsed after ministers of the opposition Hezbollah and their allies resigned.

The Hezbollah quit the government as a protest to a U.N.-backed tribunal tasked to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, the father of current premier Saad al-Hariri. Some Hezbollah members and leaders are widely believed to be at risk of being indicted by the tribunal for their role in the February 14, 2005 assassination of the older al-Hariri.

Hezbollah has denied involvement in the assassination and its leader has called the tribunal an “Israel project” out to destroy the Shi’ite political party. A Hezbollah ally said the resignation would lead to the formation of a new government. “Clearing the way for the formation of a new government … the ministers present their resignation, hoping that the president will quickly take the required steps for forming a new government,” Minister Gebran Bassil was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

The resignation came as Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was in Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. The U.S. has been at the forefront in convincing other nations to support the tribunal. A U.S. official revealed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already talked to Egyptian, French, and Saudi officials to back the U.N. tribunal.