January 23, 2011 / 9:21 PM / 8 years ago

Hezbollah says will seek "partnership government"

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah and its allies will not exclude any political party if its candidate for prime minister wins a parliamentary majority in talks starting Monday, the Shi’ite group’s chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday.

A woman smokes a water pipe as she listens to Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaking on television, at her shop in the port city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, January 23, 2011. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

“To dispel any illusions ... we in the opposition will look for a partnership government if (our) candidate wins the parliamentarian majority. We do not call for a government from one side and for excluding any political party,” Nasrallah said.

Lebanon was plunged into crisis earlier this month after Hezbollah and its allies brought down the government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a dispute over confidential indictments by a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri, Saad’s father.

The indictments are widely expected to accuse members of Hezbollah, which denies any links to the killing and says the tribunal is serving U.S. and Israeli interests.

Hezbollah had asked Hariri to repudiate the indictment and cut Lebanon’s ties with the tribunal, but he refused.

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks during a news conference in this still image taken from Hezbollah television Al-Manar, January 23, 2011. REUTERS/Al-Manar TV

The group, which was part of Hariri’s unity government formed in late 2009, said it will not back him to form a new government. Hariri said he will still seek the premiership.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, once a staunch supporter of Hariri, said Friday he will back Hezbollah, giving the Shi’ite group and its allies, who have 57 seats in parliament, a likely majority to endorse a Sunni politician of their choice to form a new government.

In Lebanon’s power-sharing political system, the current configuration means the prime minister should be a Sunni, the president a Christian Maronite and the speaker a Shi’ite. President Michel Suleiman has called parliamentarians for consultations Monday.

It was not clear if Hariri and his allies would accept to be part of Hezbollah-led government.

Lebanese officials said that pro-Syrian politician Omar Karami was the group’s candidate for the job but Nasrallah said that Karami had asked them to look for another.

He declined to say who their candidate would be but sources said they were planning to put forward former prime minister Najib Mikati, a telecoms tycoon.

Aditional reporting by Laila Bassam; Editing by Matthew Jones

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