Lebanon's unity government led by President Michel Sleiman has adopted a manifesto that affirms the authority of the state over arms held by Hezbollah. This key issue had hampered negotiations since the new cabinet was formed on July 1.
Lebanon's national unity government on Monday adopted a manifesto that affirms the authority of the state over all matters, including the weaponry held by Hezbollah, a minister said.
"The document was approved unanimously," Information Minister Tareq Mitri said at the end of a cabinet meeting chaired by President Michel Sleiman.
Parliament would soon hold a vote of confidence so that the government can begin to function officially.
The new cabinet was formed on July 11, but negotiations on a manifesto were hampered by disputes on the key issue of the arms of Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite Muslim political movement and militia.
The Hezbollah-led opposition insisted on the "right to resist" Israel, while the ruling bloc, which is supported by the West and most Arab states, insisted that only the state can make decisions on war and peace.
Mitri said that four ministers had expressed reservations over the clause related to "resistance against Israel."
The manifesto, he added, insists on "the right of Lebanon, its people, its army and its resistance to liberate its land in the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshuba Hill and Ghajar" which are occupied by Israel.
It stresses that the "the unity and the authority of the state would be the guiding principle of all government decisions and actions."
The controversy in Lebanon over Hezbollah's weapons intensified after its militants captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid in July 2006 that sparked a devastating 34-day war.
It boiled over again when Hezbollah led an armed takeover of large swathes of predominantly Sunni west Beirut in fierce fighting in May that left 65 people dead and sparked fears of a return to all-out civil war.
The new cabinet, in which the opposition has the right of veto, was formed after weeks of bickering despite a May power-sharing agreement struck in Qatar that ended a protracted political dispute.
The committee that drafted the new government manifesto comprised ministers from the parliamentary majority as well as ministers from a Syria- and Iran-backed coalition.
The Western-backed parliamentary majority has 16 seats in the new cabinet and the opposition 11, including the post of labour minister which is held by a Hezbollah MP.
Three portfolios are held by nominees of President Sleiman who is considered to be neutral.
Date created : 2008-08-05