Lebanon PM urges calm, says won't be provocative

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BEIRUT, Nov 26 (Reuters) Lebanon's Prime Minister said today his government would not make any ''provocative'' moves in a sign he would try to contain a political crisis in the divided country.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's cabinet assumed the powers of head of state on Saturday after the term of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud ended with no agreement on his successor.

The opposition, backed by Syria and led by Hezbollah, disputes the legitimacy of the anti-Syrian government and says it has no right to assume the powers of president.

''The government will work so that its decisions are studied and non-provocative and focus on political harmony,'' Siniora told religious leaders, according to his office.

Siniora urged the leaders to work ''for calm, because tension and escalation will not help the country but will instead intensify the current crisis. The goal is the election of a new president''.

Parliament is due to meet on Friday in another attempt at electing the president. The vote has already been postponed five times because the main leaders have been unable to agree.

Although there has been no deal on Lahoud's successor, the rivals have not carried out threats of unilateral action, instead containing the worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The presidency was last left vacant in 1988-1989. The crisis triggered one of the bloodiest phases in the civil war.

Shi'ite Muslim opposition groups Hezbollah and Amal said the post should not be left empty for long. The presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian in Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system.

''Consensus is the only route to resolving the crisis and clearing the black clouds of chaos over Lebanon,'' said the groups, which dispute Siniora's legitimacy because all the Shi'ite ministers quit his cabinet a year ago.

''The continuation of the vacuum will lead to the weakening of national coexistence,'' the groups said in a statement.

REUTERS PD RAI2009

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