04/26/2005, 00.00
LEBANON - SYRIA
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Historic day for Lebanon, Syrian pullout completed and new government in the making

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The pullout of Syrian troops is scheduled to be completed today. Prime Minister-designate Nagib Mikati also begins his round of talks to set up, in his words, "the government of the new Lebanese Republic".

Mikati spoke with confidence about this significant coincidence for the future of Lebanon. Meeting the press, he announced that his government will meet with members of the National Assembly to gain their confidence.

Press reports indicate that Mikati's government can already count on 75 votes in the 126-member body and could reach a compromise solution with all parties that would enable him to lead the country till the elections in late May.

At the same time, the head of Lebanon's Sûreté générale, Maj Gen Jamil Sayyed, resigned yesterday saying that his decision was taken in light of the "major changes to Lebanon's political situation".

Gen Ali Hajj, head of the Internal Security Forces chief also handed in his resignation to the Interior Minister.

This turn of events meets some of the demands of Lebanon's current opposition, led by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, but it leaves Lebanese Prosecutor-General Adnan Addoum, a former Justice Minister, still in his post.

In the meantime, the Syrian army and intelligence services have completed their withdrawal from Lebanon after 30 years in the country.

A ceremony will be held at Ryak military airport to mark the occasion in the presence of Syrian and Lebanese military chiefs, who will honour each other.

Gen Michel Sleiman, head of the Lebanese army, is scheduled to deliver a speech on behalf of President Émile Lahoud.

Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976, a year after the civil war broke out, its forces reaching 40,000 at one point.

Before the February murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, there were 14,000 troops stationed in the country. By last week-end, the number had dropped to 1,000. (YH)

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