Lebanon’s unity government has collapsed after 11 ministers led by Hezbollah and its allies resigned over tensions stemming from a US-backed probe into the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri.
Energy Minister Jibran Bassil told a news conference on Wednesday that 10 ministers of an alliance led by Hezbollah resigned from the Cabinet.
“The ministers … gathered here today announce their resignation from government and urge the president to begin necessary procedure to form a new government,” said Bassil, a member of the Free Patriotic Movement — the key Christian ally of Hezbollah.
An 11th minister close to President Michel Sleiman, State Minister Adnan Sayyed Hussein, tendered his resignation immediately after the announcement, thus providing the minimum resignations required to bring down the government, AFP reported.
Hezbollah made the decision after its demands on Tuesday for an urgent cabinet session over the tribunal’s crisis was rejected.
The resignations came as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is in the US for a meeting with US President Barack Obama.
Hariri will now head a caretaker administration and Sleiman should consult parliamentary blocs to form a new government.
Former premier Hariri and 20 other people were assassinated on February 14, 2005, when explosives equal to around 1,000 kilogram of TNT were blown up in downtown Beirut.
The Washington-sponsored Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was set up some two years later to look into the deadly incident.
Reports say that the court would likely issue an indictment against some Hezbollah members.
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has vehemently rebuffed the allegations. He has described the tribunal as part of dangerous projects that are targeting the resistance movement.
The Lebanese government had not met in months amid an escalating rift over the STL.