Hoss Resigns as Premier of Lebanon

From Associated Press

Prime Minister Salim Hoss, a veteran of Lebanon's turbulent politics, resigned today to make way for a broad-based government that will try to end 15 1/2 years of civil war.

But Christian and Muslim militia chieftains voiced dissent that could undermine peace efforts.

Hoss, a Sunni Muslim who formed his government last Nov. 25, presented the resignation of his 14-member Cabinet to President Elias Hrawi, a Maronite Catholic. Hrawi asked Hoss to stay on as caretaker prime minister.

The new Cabinet will be charged with drafting a plan to disband the private armies that have fought Lebanon's civil war since 1975. It is expected to include members from the main warring militias as well as political parties.

However, the two strongest militias--Christian chieftain Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces and Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party--expressed doubts about the plan.

"The way the president is dealing with the question of a new government indicates he might bring in an untidy government that would stumble upon its first steps," Jumblatt's party said. "This could create a dangerous power vacuum."

Jumblatt, a member of the outgoing Cabinet, has publicly accused Hrawi of corruption and favortism. Hrawi's aides countered by charging Jumblatt with "corrupt deeds" in his Ministry of Public Works.

The Lebanese Forces militia said in a statement that Geagea "will not take part in the new Cabinet.

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