Lebanese security services arrested three members of ousted Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement, local station OTV reported Tuesday. While Hezbollah was preparing to appoint its own candidate to the role of prime minister, OTV, a news outlet affiliated with one of Lebanon's opposition leaders Michel Awan, reported a number of arrests that are set to deepen the country's political crisis.
News agencies identified one of the detainees as Hussam Trabulsi, Hariri's head of security. During his arrest Trabulsi was in posession of weapons and ammunition. Hariri is personally overseeing efforts for his release.
Earlier, President Michel Suleiman announced that he had chosen billionaire businessman and former premier Najib Mikati to assemble the new government. Mikati, who is backed by Iranian-allied Hezbollah, won a majority of parliament support in two days of voting, defeating Western-backed Hariri as the candidate for the next premier.
The choice set off a "day of rage" by Sunnis, who burned tires and a van belonging to Al-Jazeera to protest the Shiite militant group's rising power. Ousted PM Hariri called on his supporters, thousands of whom are rallying against Hezbollah, to avoid violence.
"Today you are an angry people, and I understand your outcry of rage. But your rage should not lead to measures that go against our morals," Hariri said in a speech. "Let's protect the sovereignty of Lebanon together," he added.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech in which he sent out a warning to his Sunni rivals. "These are crucial and sensitive days in Lebanon. It's a battle between the forces of those who are right and those who are wrong," Nasrallah said.
He also made a direct attack on Hariri and his supporters: "Accusing Hezbollah of seeking to rule the country and forcing its own choice of prime minister on the people is the biggest lie. We never sought power; all we are interested in is defending the country.
"Let us become martyrs, but don't stab us in the back," he added. Referring to the international inquiry into the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, he noted that: "You failed in the past with your schemes during the Second Lebanon War and now you have this new scheme involving the international courts, you will fail this time too."
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