Lebanon’s national unity government collapsed on Wednesday after 11 ministers from Islamic militant group Hezbollah and its allies resigned. The move occurred while Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was in Washington meeting with President Barack Obama.
The resignations were over the United Nations-sponsored Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The tribunal was set up to independently investigate the car bomb assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005. A previous U.N. mission dismissed Lebanon’s own inquiry as severely flawed.
Under Lebanon’s Constitution, if one-third plus one of Cabinet members resign, it triggers an automatic collapse of the 30-member government, according to Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star.
The White House quickly issued a statement reassuring Saad Hariri of U.S. support of Lebanon’s “sovereignty and independence” and said the walkout only demonstrated the Hezbollah coalition’s “fear and determination to block the government’s ability to conduct its business.”