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Hezbollah protests threatened as Lebanese ministers quit

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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Five Shiite ministers resigned from Lebanon's Cabinet on Saturday after talks about giving the Hezbollah party more power collapsed, according to party spokesmen.

The withdrawal of three ministers from Hezbollah and two from the largely Shiite Amal movement does not topple the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora but it makes it more difficult for Siniora to govern.

Hezbollah has threatened to stage street protests to bring down Siniora's government unless a new unity administration is formed.

The threat prompted leaders of the major Lebanese parties to hold talks over the past week.

Lebanese government sources told CNN earlier Saturday that those talks collapsed.

Hezbollah has sought to control at least a third of the Cabinet, which would give it a veto on any decisions.

One measure Hezbollah wants to veto is a statute approving an international tribunal that would try those accused of involvement in former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination in 2005.

Saad Hariri -- head of the top Lebanese parliamentary bloc and son of the slain leader -- placed a draft proposal drawn up by the United Nations for the court on the grave of his murdered father in downtown Beirut. (Watch Saad Hariri visit grave of his father -- 2:10)

He said it was to symbolize rejection of what he believes are Syrian-backed attempts to derail the international tribunal.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow last week said there was mounting evidence that Syria was working with Hezbollah to topple the Lebanese government in an effort to prevent establishment of that tribunal. (Full story)

CNN's Brent Sadler and Nada Husseini contributed to this report.


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