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Lebanese sects aim to end clashes

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The reconciliation deal comes as Lebanon's political bosses, with an eye on what promises to be knife-edge parliamentary elections next May, attempt to shore up grass-roots support and weigh the possibility of new political alliances.

But the political climate remains volatile. On Wednesday night, Sheikh Saleh Aridi, a senior aide to Talal Arslan, the leading Druze opposition figure, was killed in a car bombing in the mountains overlooking Beirut. His murder, the first of an opposition figure since 2005, came amid speculation of a potential electoral partnership between the pro-Syrian Mr. Arslan and his traditional Druze rival, Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken critic of Damascus.

The assassination has cast a shadow over the Tripoli cease-fire agreement, which was reached following a reconciliation meeting between Saad Hariri, leader of the Sunni Future Movement, and Ali Eid, head of the Arab Democratic Party which represents Lebanon's Alawite community.

Alawites are a splinter of Shiite Islam and number around 100,000 in Lebanon, living in the hill-top Jabal Mohsen district of Tripoli and a cluster of villages along Lebanon's northern border with Syria. The community is a close ally of the Alawite-dominated regime in Syria. Saudi Arabia backs the Future Movement.

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