Beirut: France and Saudi Arabia are promoting efforts to widen Lebanon's cabinet to end a protracted crisis pitting the Western-backed government against Hezbollah and its allies, political sources and diplomats said yesterday.
They said the new mediation effort aimed at defusing tension ahead of a presidential election later in the year.
Lebanon was plunged into its worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war when opposition ministers quit the cabinet of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora last November after the ruling majority refused opposition demands for veto power.
The majority accused the opposition, made up mainly of Christian and pro-Syrian Shiite factions, of trying to block passage of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 killing of ex-premier Rafik Hariri. Pro-government leaders say Syria was behind Hariri's assassination.
The opposition took to the streets from December 1 last year to press its demands, setting up a tent camp in central Beirut that has blocked business in the heart of the capital ever since. Siniora, backed by the United States, France and Saudi Arabia, refused to cave in.