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But besides the large protest in Tripoli, the gatherings were mostly localized and not hugely disruptive.

After it was clear that Mr. Mikati won the support of a majority of lawmakers Tuesday, Mr. Hariri thanked people for their support but called for restraint.

“I understand your emotions … but this rage should not lead us to what is against our morals, faith and beliefs,” he said.

Hezbollah brought down Hariri’s Western-backed government on Jan. 12 when he refused the group’s demand to cease cooperation with a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hezbollah, which denies any role in the killing, is widely expected to be indicted.

Mr. Hariri has stayed on as caretaker prime minister.

Hezbollah can now either form its own government, leaving Mr. Hariri and his allies to become the opposition, or it can try to persuade Mr. Hariri to join a national unity government.

Mr. Hariri’s Future bloc declared a day of peaceful protests Tuesday — but called it a “day of rage” and played on the sectarian dimension of the conflict.

Also Tuesday, France’s Foreign Ministry said it is “essential” that the formation of the new government is “carried out within the framework of the constitution … and that it reflects the independent and sovereign choice of the Lebanese.”

“We call on the future government to respect the international commitments taken by Lebanon, notably those on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” the statement said.

The United States, which has poured in $720 million in military aid since 2006, has tried to move Lebanonfirmly into a Western sphere and end the influence of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley warned Monday that continuing U.S. support for Lebanon would be “problematic” if Hezbollah takes a dominant role in the government, though he declined to say what the U.S. would do if Hezbollah’s candidate becomes prime minister.

Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy and Zeina Karam contributed to this report. Angela Doland contributed from Paris.