Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

  • Deadly strike hits Gaza market despite four-hour 'truce'

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with holdout creditors

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

Middle east

Prime Minister Hariri forms new unity government

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-10

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has formed a new unity government that includes two ministers from Syrian-backed Hezbollah.

AFP - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri formed a government of national unity on Monday, ending more than four months of tough negotiations with his Hezbollah-led rivals.
   
"Finally, a government of national unity is born," Hariri told reporters after a presidential decree announcing the new cabinet line-up was announced.
   
"We have turned a new page and there is no turning back," he added.
   
"I want to be honest from the start: this government can be a chance to renew faith in the state and its institutions ... or it can turn into a replay of our failures."
   
The new line-up includes 15 ministers from Hariri's bloc and 10 from the opposition.
   
The remaining five ministers were appointed by President Michel Sleiman, including the holders of the key interior and defence portfolios.
   
Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel, has two ministers in the new cabinet.
   
The share-out means that no party will have veto power in the new government and that Sleiman will play the role of arbiter.
   
"I know previous experience is not encouraging and I know Lebanon has suffered more than its share of tragic events," Hariri said, referring to the political upheavals that have shaken Lebanon in recent years.
   
"I don't want to make empty promises," he added. "My only promise is to work hard with all parties and to pave the way for renewed faith in Lebanon."
   
Among the key issues facing the new government are Lebanon's mountainous national debt which is projected to top 50 billion dollars this year and Hezbollah's weapons stockpile.
   
The militant group, which remains blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington, is the only Lebanese faction that has refused to disarm since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.
   
Hariri, 39, the son of murdered former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, was asked to form a cabinet after his US- and Saudi-backed alliance won a general election in June.
   
But his efforts to form a new unity government with the opposition stumbled because of bickering between the two sides on the distribution of portfolios and the choice of ministers.
   
Among the major bones of contention was a demand by Christian leader Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, to retain the sensitive telecommunications ministry.
   
Hariri initially rejected the demand but finally agreed to it in a bid to break the deadlock.
   
The standoff between the rival camps softened last month amid a thaw in relations between their main regional sponsors Syria and Saudi Arabia.
   
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was eager to see the new government finalised before his departure for France later this week, Lebanese media reported. France was the colonial power in both Lebanon and Syria.
   
Syria was the power broker in its smaller neighbour for nearly 30 years before the 2005 murder of Rafiq Hariri, who was close to the Saudi monarchy.
   
The United Nations had joined Western governments in voicing concern over the deadlock in Lebanon, which they warned could have repercussions for the country's economy and security.
   
A political crisis erupted in 2006 when all Shiite cabinet ministers resigned. It climaxed on May 7, 2008 when more than 100 people were killed in sectarian fighting that took the country to the brink of renewed civil war.
   
A Qatari-brokered deal led to the formation of a national unity government in which Hezbollah and its allies had veto power over key decisions.
   
But that cabinet had not met since the June election. It was an acting government only and could not make administrative appointments or take major decisions.

Date created : 2009-11-09

  • LEBANON

    Hariri set to form new government with opposition

    Read more

  • LEBANON

    Opposition agree to join Hariri's national unity government

    Read more

COMMENT(S)