A potential kingmaker in Lebanese politics threw his support Friday behind Hezbollah, a major boost to the Shiite group that brought down the country's Western-backed government last week.
Walid Jumblatt, the influential leader of the Druze sect, refused to say exactly how many lawmakers are with him, but his support is key for any candidate trying to form a government.
In recent days, Jumblatt has gone to Damascus for meetings with Hezbollah's patron, Syria.
"The party will stand firm in support of Syria and the resistance," Jumblatt told reporters, referring to Hezbollah by the popular term.
Ministers from Hezbollah and its allies walked out of the government, forcing its collapse, last week when Prime Minister Saad refused to renounce the tribunal investigating the assassination of his father, former PM Rafik Hariri.
Once one of the most ardent supporters of the tribunal, Jumblatt on Friday launched a scathing attack on the court, saying it poses a "threat to national unity and national security."
The support of at least 65 lawmakers is required to form a government in Lebanon's 128-seat Parliament. Hezbollah and its allies already claim 57 seats. Saad Hariri - who has stayed on as caretaker prime minister and will seek the post again - has 60.
Jumblatt refused to say whether he had secured the support of enough lawmakers to allow Hezbollah and its allies to form their own government. But he is known to have at least five from his 11-member bloc, which means he needed to get just three more to tip the balance.
President Michel Suleiman will launch formal talks Monday on creating a new government, polling lawmakers on their choices before nominating a prime minister. According to Lebanon's power-sharing system, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim.
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