Seven weeks after an agreement brokered by Qatar brought the coutry back from the brink of civil war, Lebanon has announced a new 30-members national unity government.
After a meeting with Lebanon’s president, Michel Sleiman, in Beirut on Friday, Fouad Siniora (photo, from time.com), reinstated as the country’s prime minister, announced the new cabinet.
Mohammad Chatah, a close adivser to Siniora, was named as finance minister while Mohammad Fneish, a Hezbollah official, was named labour minister. The post of foreign minister was given to Fawzi Salloukh, a lawyer and diplomat.
The opposition was granted 11 of the cabinet’s 30 seats.
“This government has two main tasks – regaining confidence in the Lebanese political system … and securing the holding of a transparent parliamentary election”, said Fouad Siniora.
Mediated in Doha,the Qatari capital, the May 21 deal ended a political stalemate in Lebanon, which had lived the worst fighting since the 1975-90 civil war.
The Doha agreement called for Sleiman to be elected president, a unity government to be formed and gave Hezbollah and its allies veto power over government decisions.
For weeks Lebanon’s prime minister struggled to form the new unity government, in view of intense political wrangling from all sides.
‘For the sake of Lebanon’
The agreement “took a lot of sacrifice”, said Saad al-Hariri, the parliamentary majority leader, but his side and the Hezbollah-led opposition “made some compromises … for the sake of Lebanon and the Lebanese people”.
“I have asked prime minister Fouad Siniora to accept the nomination of Ali Kanso, [the former head of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party]“, he said, after referring to a figure previously opposed by al-Hariri’s camp.
Hezbollah wanted Kanso nominated, but because of his party’s involvement in the violent clashes in May, he had been rejected by the majority.
“People were very frustrated, they saw their political leaders wrangling for weeks and they were sick of them”, said Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut.
“But now it [the government] has been formed the challenge is where it goes from here.”
Most of the new ministers were known to be moderates, said Ghassan Ben Jiddou, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Lebanon. He added it meant that all political groups have desisted from nominating controversial figures, he said.