By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer  BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon’s president on Friday named moderate pro-Syrian lawmaker Najib Mikati as prime minister, breaking a political deadlock and reviving chances for holding parliamentary elections next month. The announcement came two days after Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami ended his efforts to form a Cabinet after nearly seven weeks. Mikati, an opposition-backed former public works minister, won the position after President Emile Lahoud polled legislators or their representatives from the 128-member parliament. Lahoud consulted with the speaker of parliament about the results and then summoned Mikati to the presidential palace and asked him to form the next government, said presidential spokesman Rafik Shalala.

Mikati gained the largest number of votes. He told reporters afterward that he won the support of 58 lawmakers.

The number of those who backed his opponent, staunchly pro-Syrian Defense Minister Abdul-Rahim Murad, was not disclosed.

The government’s main task now is to steer an electoral bill through parliament and call a crucial election. Opposition figures have said they feel confident the vote will end pro-Syrian dominance of the legislature.

“We will be the symbol of moderation and national unity,” Mikati declared from the presidential palace after being appointed by the president.

“I say it from here that the hand is extended and the heart is open so that we all cooperate in the Lebanese interest,” he said.

Lebanon has been without a government since Karami resigned as prime minister on Feb. 28 amid anti-Syrian protests sparked by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two weeks earlier. Lahoud named Karami to try to form a new Cabinet, but failed after weeks of negotiations.

Elections are supposed to be held by May 31, when parliament’s term runs out — but a government must be in place first to call the election. The opposition had accused the pro-Syrian leadership of stalling to scuttle the vote and keep the Damascus-dominated legislature in place.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged that the will of the Lebanese people be respected and that parliamentary elections be held by the end of May.

Syria has agreed to have all its thousands of troops out of Lebanon by April 30, although it is on track to finish the pullout sooner