BEIRUT, July 14 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s prime minister said on Thursday he would seek to form a government of technocrats after failing to win agreement on a cabinet drawn from political groups no longer forced to bend to Syria’s will.Fouad Siniora, a member of a coalition that pushed for Syria’s pullout from Lebanon, made the announcement after talks with pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud confirmed that squabbles had scuppered his proposed cabinet of politicians.The next government, the first since Syria ended its 29-year military presence in Lebanon in April, faces many challenges including reestablishing stability after a series of bombings and assassinations, political reform and tackling a huge debt. It also has to deal with a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding the disarming of anti-Israeli Hizbollah guerrillas. “I agreed with his excellency the president that we go ahead with preparing a government line-up from outside parliament, from people who have political know-how but are not members of parties,” the prime minister-designate told reporters. He indicated the cabinet would be made up of 24 ministers. Political sources said Siniora would now have to come up with a team of technocrats with political links so that they would win the backing of the various parties.

Siniora had presented a 30-member government list to Lahoud on Tuesday. But strong reservations by Christian leader Michel Aoun and a pro-Syrian Shi’ite Muslim coalition over their representation made Lahoud’s approval impossible.

The cabinet had been expected to be dominated by political foes of Syria, most of whom turned against Damascus after the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. His death fuelled an outcry against Syria’s role in Lebanon.

Siniora, who is loyal to Saad al-Hariri, leader of the largest bloc in parliament and the slain ex-premier’s son, was asked two weeks ago to form the government after the first elections with no Syrian forces in three decades.

Siniora, finance minister for most of the period after the 1975-1990 civil war and a senior aide to Hariri, faces the task of reining in a $36 billion public debt now almost twice the size of Lebanon’s gross domestic product.

He also needs to prove to international markets that Lebanon can take care of its internal security without Syrian troops and maintain unity as tension rises between pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian factions, the most powerful of which is Hizbollah.