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Lebanese prime minister resigns


BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri has resigned along with his government and said he would not lead a new government.

The resignation on Wednesday came after the Lebanese constitution was changed last month in a controversial move to allow Emile Lahoud, Lebanon's Syrian-backed president, to remain in office.

Hariri said he met with Lahoud, who accepted his resignation.

In a written statement, Hariri said the only way to fend off the challenges of Lebanon is to meet them through "a coherent internal front that addresses the aspirations and determination of the Lebanese and their confidence in their state and government."

He said he hopes that after consultations with parliament, Lahoud would be able to appoint a prime minister, leading to a government that "serves Lebanon's interests and expresses its people's aspirations."

Hariri, who heads a business empire worth billions, has been leading an effort to build the nation in the aftermath of the 1990 civil war.

Syria, which is under pressure from the United Nations to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon, remains a power broker in the country.

On Thursday, Lahoud will start consultations with members of parliament.

Hariri led government for the first time in 1992 and was appointed prime minister five times.

Hariri and Lahoud have been political rivals for years, mainly on domestic issues.

The president of Lebanon is elected by parliament for a six-year term. The prime minister is nominated by the president and does not have a specified term.

Lahoud's term was to end in November, but parliament amended the Lebanese constitution and extended his term for another three years. Members of parliament complained that they were being pressured by Syria.

Hariri signed the amendment to the constitution.

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