Lebanese Legislator Dies of Bomb Wounds

Legislator Bassel Fleihan (search) died in a Paris hospital Monday of wounds sustained in the Feb. 14 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search), a Lebanese television channel reported.

A former minister of the economy, Fleihan had been flown to France with severe burns days after the bombing that killed a total of 21 people, including Fleihan, and wounded more than 100 others.

Fleihan died Monday morning "after vital organs of his body stopped functioning," Future Television reported. The TV station is owned by the Hariri family.

Fleihan was sitting in the front seat of Hariri's car when the bomb exploded as the former prime minister's motorcade was passing along a seafront boulevard in central Beirut.

The assassination of Hariri, who had resigned as prime minister in October, triggered a political crisis in Lebanon that is continuing. Opposition leaders and supported accused Syria (search) and Lebanon' pro-Syrian government of playing a role in the killing — a charge both authorities denied.

Mass demonstrations caused the Lebanese government to fall two weeks after the bombing, and the country has still not managed to form a new Cabinet. The second legislator to be nominated as prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati, began consulting legislators Monday on forming a government.

The bombing also greatly intensified international pressure on Syria to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon. Syria began withdrawing them in March and has pledged to withdraw all its troops and intelligence officers by the end of April. There are currently about 4,000 Syrian soldiers in Lebanon — the lowest number since Syrian forces were deployed in the country in the second year of its 1975-90 civil war.