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January 25, 2011 10:11 pm

Hezbollah to Rule Lebanon, Sunnis Protest

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Sunni protesters blocked Lebanese roads and burned tyres in a “day of rage” against the appointment yesterday of a Hizbullah-backed prime minister to replace Saad Al-Hariri.

“Sunni blood is boiling,” Hariri loyalists chanted at the largest demonstration in Al-Nour square in the northern city of Tripoli, where protesters also burned a satellite van belonging to the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel. Roadblocks and sit-ins spread to the south and Bekaa Valley, as well as southwestern Beirut.

Mr Mikati belongs to the Sunni sect, as the premier must under Lebanon’s fragile sectarian system of powersharing.

But Hizbullah’s mustering of the necessary majority of MPs’ nominations for Mr Mikati prompted accusations that the heavily armed Shia Muslim party had “stolen” the Sunni community’s share of power.

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“They took control militarily and politically,” said Osama Itani, who was protesting in Beirut’s Martyrs Square last night, wearing the sky-blue flag of Mr Hariri’s Future Movement as a bandana. “We’ll stay on the streets until we bring Sheikh Saad back.”

Opponents of Hizbullah, which is backed by Iran and Syria and designated “terrorist” by the US State Department, fear the next government could herald global isolation.

“A Hizbullah-controlled government would clearly have an impact on our bilateral relationship with Lebanon,” US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said last night.

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