Hezbollah, Amal Cabinet Members Resign from Lebanon Gov't

Hezbollah and Amal Cabinet ministers resigned from the Lebanese government on Saturday, Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV Station said.

The resignation of five Cabinet ministers from Amal and Hezbollah throws Lebanon's political landscape in chaos, though it does not automatically bring down the government.

But by quitting, the five Shiite Muslim Cabinet ministers remove considerable political backing from the country's main sect and could make it difficult for western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to govern.

More than eight Cabinet ministers would need to resign before the government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora is considered dissolved.

It would also be extremely difficult for Saniora to appoint new Shiite ministers in the Cabinet —which has to be half-Muslim, half-Christian— because an overwhelming majority of the Shiite legislators in Parliament belong to Amal or Hezbollah.

Al-Manar, quoting from a statement issued by both Amal and Hezbollah, said the ministers from the Hezbollah guerrilla and allied Shiite Muslim Amal party declared they were resigning because all-party talks have fallen through and the government was trying to impose conditions for negotiation on a new government.

The TV announcement came after the failure earlier Saturday of a weeklong attempt to agree on a Hezbollah demand for a national unity government.

Al-Manar said the ministers resigned because they refuse "to cover up what we are not convinced of, and what might damage the supreme national interests." The resignation came because the authorities "were insisting on imposing terms and premature results for negotiations."

It did not elaborate.