“WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House welcomed the resignation of pro-Syrian Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh saying it should pave the way for elections and a new government that was ‘truly representative.’

White House spokesman Scott McClellan also repeated a call for Syrian troops to leave Lebanon. ‘We are closely watching developments with great interest,’ he told reporters.

‘The resignation of the Karameh government represents an opportunity for the Lebanese people to have a new government which is truly representative of their country’s diversity,’ McClellan said.

‘The new government will have the responsibility to implement free and fair elections that the Lebanese people have clearly demonstrated they desire,’ McClellan added.

‘The process of (forming) a new government should proceed in accordance with the Lebanese constitution and should be free of all foreign interference,’ the White House spokesman said.

‘It is time for Syria to fully comply with United Nations (news – web sites) Security Council resolution 1559 that means that Syria military forces and intelligence personnel leave the country,’ he said. ‘That will help to ensure that elections are free and fair.’

Karameh resigned on Monday in the face of mass protests, bringing to a head a political crisis sparked by the murder two weeks ago of his predecessor Rafiq Hariri.

The announcement was greeted with loud applause in Lebanon’s national assembly, where the opposition had been seeking a vote of no confidence in Karameh’s four-month-old government.

Tens of thousands of jubilant demonstrators in nearby Martyrs’ Square in central Beirut broke into singing the national anthem.”