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Beirut - Lebanon is on the verge of a "coup" by pro-Syrian opposition groups, the country's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said Sunday.

"The (pro-Syrian) opposition groups are on the verge of announcing a coup in the country and we (the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority) should take the brave decision to confront all options," said Jumblatt in an address to the politiburo members of his group, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP).

Jumblatt said there was still the possibility of a peaceful solution to the country's political divisions, in order to avert "a new civil war" along the lines of the 1975-1990 conflict.

Lebanon has been riven by political tensions in the past months between pro-Syrian opposition groups and the anti-Syria parliamentary majority.

The anti-Syrian bloc has accused Damascus and its Lebanese allies of complicity in the 2005 killing of former premier Rafik Hariri, a charge Syria vehemently denies.

However an ongoing UN probe into the assassination has accused Syrian and Lebanese officers, with four security officials close to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud in detention.

The proposed formation of an international court to try the suspects has meanwhile been a major obstacle on the road towards Lebanese political unity.

Six pro-Syrian ministers resigned from the cabinet on November 11 after Prime Minister Fouad Seniora went ahead with a cabinet meeting to adopt a UN draft on the court, while a series of roundtable talks between all factions also came to naught.

The Damascus-backed camp blamed the failure of talks on the anti-Syrian majority after they refused their demand for a "blocking minority" share in the 24-member government.

The anti-Syrian majority has rejected the demand for a unity cabinet until it secures a pledge from the pro-Syrian camp to remove President Lahoud, while the pro-Syrian camp have threatened street protests and civil disobedience to pressure the government to resign and set up an early parliamentary elections.

The resignations of all Shiite representatives in the cabinet prompted Hezbollah, its Christian ally Michel Aoun and Lahoud to claim that the cabinet had become unconstitutional because it lacks the representation of a major sect in Lebanon.

Lahoud also said the cabinet's adoption of the UN draft setting up the international court was "not binding" as the decision was taken by an "illegitimate" government.

"I promise you (Lebanese people) that we will have a new government soon," Lahoud was quoted as saying on Sunday.

With tensions high, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is expected to give a statement later Sunday to announce his party's position on the political crisis in the country.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to discuss the UN draft on the tribunal on Monday. After the draft is endorsed by the UN the text will be sent back to Lebanon where it will have to be formally approved by parliament.

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