Roadblocks across Lebanon as anger rises over PM pick

BEIRUT (AFP) – Protesters blocked roads across crisis-hit Lebanon yesterday to condemn the designation of Hezbollah-backed Hassan Diab as Prime Minister in a divisive vote that sparked uproar among members of the Sunni community.

Diab, a little-known 60-year-old engineering professor at the American University of Beirut, was designated on Thursday with the endorsement of Shiite group Hezbollah and its allies but without backing from Lebanon’s main Sunni bloc.

The nomination of the independent former education minister and self-styled ‘technocrat’ ended nearly two months of political wrangling among lawmakers. But it fuelled anger among members of Lebanon’s Sunni community who said the prime-minister-designate did not enjoy the sect’s backing for a post reserved for Sunni by a power-sharing system enshrined after the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

In the mainly Sunni city of Tripoli in north Lebanon, which was already rocked by rallies and roadblocks on Thursday, schools were closed and opponents of Diab again blockaded roads amid calls for a general strike, said an AFP correspondent there.

Lebanese protesters block a road in the norther city of Tripoli. PHOTO: AFP