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Economy Minister Mohammad Safadi condemned attacks against media and developmental institutions, particularly the Safadi Foundation, during Tuesday’s protests, according to a statement issued by his press office on Wednesday.

He denounced depriving the city of its ability to make decisions and said the protests distorted Tripoli’s image.

“The office which was burnt… has provided services to Tripoli and its people for more than ten years… What happened does not represent the principles of the people of Tripoli, ” Safadi said

His comments come after protesters loyal to outgoing PM Saad Hariri destroyed and burned a vehicle belonging to an Al-Jazeera TV press team at Nour square in Tripoli on Tuesday and torched the mopeds of other media outlets considered close to Hezbollah.

Protests erupted in Lebanon following Tuesday appointment of Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati to the premiership, giving the party increased leverage in the deeply divided country.

Safadi , who was elected on Hariri’s list in Tripoli was denounced by the protesters as a traitor for voting for Mikati during the premiership consultations.

“Whoever killed Rafik Hariri in 2005 doesn’t want Saad Hariri to be in power,” Hariri said Wednesday during an interview with the New York Times, in reference to Hezbollah which is backed by Iran and Syria.

“What’s happening today is that they are trying to achieve what they wanted to achieve in 2005,” Hariri added in reference to the coup that brought down his government

Mikati did confirm yesterday that he was nominated to protect Hezbollah. He told AFP on Tuesday : “My nomination by Hezbollah does not make me committed to any political stance other than protecting the Resistance.” This was a possible reference to Hezbollah’s five point plan.

Hezbollah brought down Hariri’s government on January 12 over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s ( STL) indictment which is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri in 2005 .

According to analysts the issue in Lebanon is not who is Mikati as much as how did Mikati get nominated and by whom.

Syria praises Mikati

Syria’s daily Al-Watan, which is close to the Damascus government, on Wednesday expressed its support for Mikati and said he would bring change to the region.

“Najib Mikati is the man appointed to form a new government in Lebanon … which will herald changes in political life in Lebanon and around the region.” The paper said

“More importantly, Lebanon has uncovered the grand plot and dangerous deceptions hatched by Western parties and their proxies within the country,” the paper added.

Mikati is reportedly a close friend of Syrian president Bashar Assad

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