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Lebanon Forms Unity Government After Months of Political Deadlock

By VOA News
11 July 2008

Lebanon has formed a national unity government as part of a deal that brought the country's rival political factions back from the brink of civil war.

The new 30-member Cabinet gives the Hezbollah-led opposition 11 seats and veto power over government decisions. The Western-backed parliamentary majority gets 16 seats, and the president assigns the remaining three seats.

The opposition took the coveted post of foreign minister, while the ruling majority kept the finance ministry.

The new lineup was announced in a decree signed Friday, by President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora

President Suleiman told reporters one of the first tasks of the new government is to prepare for parliamentary elections next year.

Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri said earlier Friday that political negotiators achieved a breakthrough after weeks of contentious talks when the parliamentary majority made a key concession to the opposition.

He said the majority agreed to support the opposition's proposal to include a pro-Syrian politician, Ali Kanso, in the cabinet.

The two sides had been deadlocked over the distribution of key ministerial posts since they agreed to a Qatari-brokered political deal in May.

 

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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