Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati has announced the resignation of his government, citing divisions on several issues. He has called for the formation of a national unity government.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his resignation late Friday in a speech aired live on TV, saying that he hoped his departure would be "an impetus for leaders to shoulder their responsibilities."
"I announce the resignation of the government, hoping that this will open the way for the major political blocs to take responsibility and come together to bring Lebanon out of the unknown," Mikati said.
Mikati's decision came after disagreements over the creation of an elections supervisory body and the extension of a security chief's term in office.
The government has held off agreeing on the membership of the commission, despite previous attempts, over fears it would ensure that elections scheduled for June are held on the basis of a decades-old electoral law.
Mikati, along with the leader of Lebanon's Druze community, Walid Jumblatt, is said to favor the existing law, which gives his Sunni community and the Druze disproportionate strength in the parliament. However, Lebanon's Christians vehemently disapprove of it saying it fails to give them representative weight.
Lebanese media had previously speculated that Mikati could also resign due to a contentious bid to extend the tenure of Lebanon's police chief, Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi.
A majority of the government, including the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, opposed extending Rifi's term.
The resignation also comes as Lebanon struggles with the conflict engulfing neighboring Syria, which has aggravated existing tensions in Lebanon's multi-confessional population.
The violence between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the rebel opposition has already spilled over into Lebanon, and Damascus has warned Beirut against allowing weapons and arms to flow over the border.
hc/rc (AFP, AP)