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Lebanese prime minister: There will be no coup

Story Highlights

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora vowed there will be no coup
• A Hezbollah planned rally is expected to happen in Lebanon Friday
• Hezbollah's leaders have called for the toppling of Siniora's government
• Protest comes not long after Syria was accused of killing a Cabinet official
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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Attempting to blunt the impact of a rally planned by Hezbollah for Friday, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora vowed Thursday that there will be no coup in Lebanon.

"Enough conflicts, enough assassinations, enough tragedies," said Siniora, promising that his government would "uphold the Lebanese flag."

He also told the Lebanese people that no "mini-state within a state" would be established.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose pro-Syrian ministers have resigned from the Cabinet, has called for a mass demonstration Friday aimed at toppling Siniora's government.

Hezbollah is a militant group based in Lebanon aimed at establishing a fundamentalist Muslim state. It is labeled a terrorist organization by Israel and the U.S. State Department.

Hezbollah and Israel fought a monthlong war over the summer that left much of Lebanon in ruins.

Siniora said those who protest want "to transform Lebanon as a playground for international conflicts."

Siniora asserted the demonstrations will not collapse his government. Only the Lebanese parliament can dissolve the Lebanese government, he said.

He said the only way to keep the peace is national unity, noting he and his government have extended a hand to the opposition and would continue to do so.

Siniora's tangle with Syria reached a boiling point in mid-November when all five pro-Syrian Shiite Muslim ministers and one Christian in the 24-member Cabinet resigned.

The Lebanese parliament, presidency and Cabinet are evenly divided among Christians and Muslims, a 1989 power-sharing agreement that preceded the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990.

The resignations came in advance of the creation of an international tribunal charged with investigating the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Siniora and the remaining 18 members backed the tribunal.

U.N. investigators have linked Syria to Hariri's killing and 22 other people who died when an explosion went off near his motorcade.

Syria has denied any role in Hariri's death.

In late November, Lebanon's political crisis deepened with the assassination of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.

The 34-year-old rising Cabinet official from a prominent Christian political family was shot to death in his car in Beirut.

Gemayel's anti-Syrian allies paraded in the streets during his funeral, shouting that they -- not Hezbollah -- represent the majority of the country.

The U.N. Security Council approved Siniora's request for U.N. investigators to look into Gemayel's death.

Washington has not openly linked Syria to the shooting, but President Bush has called for a full investigation.

On Thursday, Siniora said Lebanon faces "difficult days" ahead.

"We have no other way except to come together in dialogue," he said.

Siniora said no party should be able to impose conditions on another.

"No one is bigger than Lebanon," Siniora declared Thursday.

Nasrallah is counting on the support of parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a Shiite Muslim like himself, and Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun.

Siniora's address was seen as an appeal to Shiites and Christians not to join with Hezbollah's protest.

Nasrallah contends Hezbollah cannot stay in the current government because it represents only one camp.

He said his group wants to create a true unity government.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora vowed his government will fight attempts to establish foreign control on the country.




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