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MODERATE LAWMAKER NAMED PRIME MINISTER

Lebanon's president on Friday named moderate pro-Syrian lawmaker Najib Mikati as prime minister, breaking a political deadlock and reviving chances for holding parliamentary elections next month.

The elections are crucial for the opposition, which backed Mikati in an effort to end the impasse in forming a government. The legislature's term expires at the end of May.

Mikati's appointment came two days after Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami quit following several weeks of failed efforts at forming a government.

Mikati, 49, who was first elected to parliament in 2000, boycotted Karami's ill-fated consultations to form a Cabinet last month.

Instead, he prayed at the grave of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose Feb. 14 assassination was the catalyst for massive anti-Syrian protests and international pressure that forced Syria to begin withdrawing its army from Lebanon.

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