St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

Crowd gives Lebanese government an ultimatum

Published December 11, 2006


BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah members and their allies flooded central Beirut on Sunday demanding changes in the government's makeup as soldiers strung more barbed wire around the offices of the Western-backed prime minister.

Buoyed by the big turnout after a week of street protests, the pro-Syria opposition gave Prime Minister Fuad Saniora an ultimatum of a "few days" to accept its demand to form a national unity government with a big role for Hezbollah or face an escalating campaign to oust him.

Saniora, who has been holed up in his fortified office downtown, rejected the demand and urged his foes to resume negotiations. The opposition should "return to the constitutional institutions to discuss differences and reach real solutions," he said in a written statement.

Political unrest has split the country along sectarian lines, with most Sunni Muslims supporting the Sunni prime minister and Shiite Muslims backing the militant Hezbollah. Christian factions are split between the two camps.

But despite the heated rhetoric of the political confrontation, Sunday's mass gathering remained peaceful and left the door open to the possibility of a settlement.

"Hopefully it won't be long. At the end, there will be no winner, no vanquished. We should all be winners," Saad Hariri, leader of Parliament's anti-Syria majority and a Saniora supporter, told the Associated Press.

Pro-government groups staged a rival demonstration that drew tens of thousands in the northern port city of Tripoli.

[Last modified December 11, 2006, 00:46:04]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters