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LEBANON - Apr 2 - Bomb Blast Injures 4.

A bomb rips through a shopping center in a Christian village east of Beirut last night wounding four people and causing extensive damage. The explosion rocked Rizk Plaza in the summer resort village of Broummana. It was the fourth bomb attack in a Christian area in two weeks. Lebanese Red Cross volunteers at the scene said by phone that the three people were injured by flying glass. Police said the bomb caused material damage to shops and nearby residential areas as well as the bank. Broummana is a summer resort popular with Arab tourists. It is in the hills overlooking the capital. The blast occurred shortly after Lebanon's Parliament speaker said pro-Syrian PM Omar Karami had decided to stay on rather than step down as he had previously said and would try again to form a government to supervise elections due in May. In a move that threatened to delay those polls, Karami had said this week he would resign after failing to persuade anti-Syrian opposition figures to join a national unity Cabinet. But Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said after a meeting of pro-Syrian politicians Karami would stay on to form a Cabinet "as soon as possible". "Those meeting have unanimously declared their refusal to give up on their demand for a government of national unity led by PM Omar Karami", Berri said after the meeting, adding the PM reluctantly accepted to stay on. Lebanese opposition leaders accused Syria and its local allies on Mar 31 of trying to delay elections to prolong the life of the chamber that is largely loyal to Damascus. Karami resigned as PM more than a month ago under immense popular pressure from Lebanese angered by the killing of his predecessor Rafik Hariri, which has thrown Lebanon into its biggest political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. But Parliament reappointed Karami to form a national unity government of pro-Syrian loyalists and opposition members. His old Cabinet still holds office in a caretaker capacity. Berri said any new government would draw up a new law organising the election based on large constituencies - which some analysts say would favour pro-Syrian candidates. A prominent Christian politician said the opposition would contest a parliamentary election due in May even if the polls were delayed and would still win a majority. "We are (putting up) a fight in order to avoid any delay and I think that even a technical delay is the first step to destroying the parliamentary democratic system that we have in Lebanon", Maronite Christian member of Parliament Boutros Harb told Reuters. But even if those efforts failed, he said he was confident of victory for the opposition that draws support from Maronites, Druze and Sunni Muslims, some of them former civil war foes. Thirty-five opposition deputies signed a petition demanding prompt elections and accusing Karami and Berri of procrastinating to avoid defeat at the polls. Lebanon's opposition seized on popular protests following the Feb 14 killing of Hariri to demand that Syria end its 29-year military and intelligence presence in Lebanon. Syria promised the UN this week to withdraw all its troops before the elections. Three Syrian military trucks drove across the border from Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, witnesses said, as the pullout continued. The US and France, co-sponsors of UN Resolution 1559 demanding that foreign forces leave Lebanon and militias disarm, are circulating another draft resolution to establish an "international independent investigation commission" into Hariri's killing. Lebanon and Syria, initially opposed to an international inquiry, have now told the UN they accept the plan. For the second time this week, thousands of supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah group protested outside the US Embassy near Beirut yesterday against US meddling in Lebanese politics and UN Resolution 1559.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Apr 2, 2005
Previous Article:LEBANON - Mar 29 - Pro-Syria PM Omar Karami Steps Down.
Next Article:PALESINE - Mar 31 - Abbas Crackdown After West Bank HQ Attack.

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