Men smoke as Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks on television, at a coffee shop in the port city of Sidon in south Lebanon 16 Jan. 2011. Nasrallah said on Sunday his group and its allies would not back caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to form a new government in talks expected to begin on Monday. (Reuters)
BEIRUT — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah announced on Sunday his group would not back the Sunni billionaire Saad Al-Hariri for premiership, and vowed a strong stand against likely charges over the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Al-Hariri, on the eve of expected indictments in the case.
"We will not allow our reputation and our dignity to be tarnished nor will we allow anyone to conspire against us or to unjustly drench us in Hariri's blood," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
"We will act to defend our dignity, our existence and our reputation," he added while reiterating previous accusations that The Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was controlled by the United States and Israel.
Nasrallah said his party would disclose in coming days how it planned to defend itself in light of the indictments.
His speech came a day before the prosecutor of the UN-backed tribunal was expected to submit his charges in the 2005 murder to a pre-trial judge.
It also came ahead of consultations Monday led by Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman to nominate a new premier after Hezbollah and its allies on Wednesday toppled the government of Saad Al-Hariri, the slain leader's son.
The resignations of 11 ministers were linked to the long-running dispute over the STL, which Nasrallah expects will accuse high-ranking operatives of his Shiite militant party.
Nasrallah confirmed that his party and its allies would not nominate Hariri for the premiership and accused the United States of scuttling an initiative by Saudi Arabia and Syria to forge a compromise on the standoff over the tribunal.
"The opposition will not name Saad Al-Hariri for premiership," he said.