BEIRUT, Lebanon – Prime Minister-designate Fuad Saniora on Friday got down to trying to form Lebanon’s first government without Syrian influence in three decades. Saniora consulted former prime ministers and legislators a day after President Emile Lahoud asked him to form a Cabinet. He was given the position after a record number of lawmakers

Marwan Hamadeh, an anti-Syrian legislator who survived an assassination attempt last October, said the new government should continue to dismantle the “security and intelligence regime” put in place by the Syrian army before its withdrawal. 

Syria  withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April, ending a 29-year military presence. The withdrawal was precipitated by the Feb. 14 assassination of Rafik Hariri, which triggered street protests in Lebanon. Syria and allies in the Lebanese security services were blamed for the killing, an accusation both governments denied.

Leading members of the anti-Syrian coalition that triumphed in last month’s elections have accused Syria of continuing to run intelligence agents in Lebanon.

The United States has expressed concern that Syria is still trying to manipulate Lebanon despite its military withdrawal. Syria denies these charges, saying it wants to see stability in Lebanon.

Saniora’a government will face major challenges, including the development of new relations with Syria and the revival of Lebanon’s economy, which is burdened with a $35.6 billion in foreign debt.

It will also have to tackle the sensitive issue of Hezbollah, the only group from the 1975-90 civil war that retains a military wing. The United States lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and the U.N. Security Council has demanded its disarmament.

But Hezbollah refuses to disarm, saying it is protecting Lebanon from Israel, and has been supported on this by previous Lebanese governments and a large section of the public.

Also Friday, a booby-trapped car exploded near a hotel south of the capital, seriously injuring a 32-year-old woman in an apparent domestic dispute, security officials said. The woman was hospitalized in stable condition by early evening.