A beleaguered Prime Minister Fuad Saniora called Tuesday for dialogue with his political opponents as Hezbollah readied itself for mass demonstrations intended to bring down the government.
"Dialogue is the only way to bridge mistrust and settle differences," Saniora told a meeting of the diplomatic corps in an address that was broadcast live on national television.
Speaking to reporters afterward, he said he feared that mass protests would degenerate into violence. "This is a real concern," he said.
Although Hezbollah, which is leading the push against Saniora's government, has said its demonstrations would peaceful, pro-government factions have said they would stage counter-demonstrations. And the political split is taking sectarian lines, with Hezbollah being a Shiite Muslim party and Saniora being backed by Sunni Muslim parties.
"I cannot really deny the fact that there might be some infiltrators" intending to stir trouble, Saniora said of the demonstrations.