Suleiman to Start Consultations to Appoint New PM on Monday

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday announced that consultations on appointing a new prime minister would begin on Monday, following the collapse of the national unity government.

"Consultations with parliamentarians will begin Monday at 12:00 p.m.," Berri said after talks with President Michel Suleiman at the Baabda Palace, adding that "the meeting was very good."

The announcement came a day after the Hizbullah-led March 8 coalition forced the collapse of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government in a dispute over a U.N.-backed probe into the assassination of Hariri's father, ex-premier Rafik Hariri.

Eleven ministers withdrew from the government, providing the minimum number of resignations needed to automatically dissolve the 30-member cabinet, now acting in a caretaker capacity.

The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon is reportedly set to indict high-ranking Hizbullah operatives in the 2005 assassination of Hariri.

The armed group has warned any such accusation would have grave repercussions and has been pressing Saudi- and Western-backed Hariri to disavow the tribunal.(AFP-Naharnet)