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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Pro-Syrians 'seek poll sabotage'
Lebanese opposition leaders observe a minute's silence in respect of Hariri before a meeting at his family home
Opposition politicians met at Hariri's house for their talks
Lebanon's opposition has accused the outgoing pro-Syrian government of trying to sabotage elections.

The opposition says the government is staging a "dangerous bid" to illegally prolong the parliament's mandate.

The charge came as 70 opposition MPs and party members met to renew a demand for a "neutral" administration to oversee elections before 31 May.

Prime Minister Omar Karami announced an intention to step down on Tuesday, but delayed the move until at least Friday.

"The authorities are working to sabotage elections in a dangerous bid to prolong the mandate of the current parliament," the opposition said in a statement.

"The opposition blames the head of state Emile Lahoud, parliament speaker Nabih Berri and parliament for this situation, and calls for them to meet their obligations without delaying tactics," it continued.

Mr Karami, who was reappointed after resigning in the face of growing opposition demonstrations a month ago, has failed to persuade opposition members to join the government.

Government critics say it wants to postpone elections for fear of being swept aside by the wave of anger over the 14 February killing of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Many Lebanese suspect the government and its Syrian backers were somehow involved in the bombing - although this has been strenuously denied by officials.


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