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Lebanon finally has a government Sulaiman's man seals the deal.

Byline: Sami MoubayedCorrespondent

Damascus Achieving a breakthrough in a five-month-long political deadlock, Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Sa'ad Hariri has named a 30-man Cabinet that is acceptable both to the pro-West March 14 Coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition.

The March 14 coalition which enjoys the parliamentary majority has bagged 15 portfolios in the ministry while the opposition has got 10. President Michel Sulaiman has named five ministers of his choice for the defence and interior portfolios besides three ministers of state u a Sunni, a Shiite, and a Christian.

"Finally, the government of national concord has been born," Hariri proclaimed to reporters after meeting Sulaiman.

The Cabinet formation has been long delayed due to several complicated factors, one of them being the granting of a "blocking third" veto power to the opposition.

Both the Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) of Michel Aoun have been insistent on such a discretionary power to prevent March 14 from taking any unanimous decisions within the government regarding the arms of the Hezbollah resistance group.

March 14 had refused to bend on this issue, maintaining that the opposition can not have a veto right since it only commands 57 out of the 128 seats in the parliament. That problem has seemingly been surmounted with the naming of a Shiite minister who is acceptable to the opposition, Adnan Al Sayyed Hussain, among President Sulaiman's five nominees.

The choice of the newcomer in the ministry effectively gives the opposition, which has only 10 ministers, 11 votes in the Cabinet, thereby clinching the "blocking third" option.

Another stumbling bloc has been the Ministry of Telecommunications, which Aoun had been demanding all along for his son-in-law, Jibran Basil, a demand strongly supported by Hezbollah.

March 14 initially refused to give in to this demand, claiming that Basil had lost the parliamentary elections in June and, therefore, was ineligible for a Cabinet post. In late October, President Sulaiman, speaking to the Saudi daily Al Hayat, observed that there was no law in Lebanon preventing the appointment of persons defeated in parliamentary elections as minister and that it was simply a norm the Lebanese political class had observed since the 1940s.

Bone of contention

The Telecommunications Ministry has been a bone of contention especially since May 2008, when the former Fouad Siniora Cabinet tried to dismantle Hezbollah's communications network at Beirut International Airport.

The two camps have now seemingly found common ground on the issue, granting the ministry to one of Aoun's candidates, Charbel Nahhas (a Roman Catholic), who too happens to be a newcomer.

Basil was named Minister of Energy and Water.

The breakthrough in Lebanon comes one month after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made a groundbreaking visit to Syria, settling differences aside with Damascus, which had positively affected Lebanon's political dynamics.

n Prime Minister: Sa'ad Hariri (Sunni)

n Finance Minister: Raya Al Hassan (Sunni)

n Economy Minister: Mohammad Al Safadi (Sunni)

n Culture Minister: Salim Warde (Orthodox Christian)

n Minister for the Displaced: Akram Chehayeb (Druze)

n Education Minister: Hassan Mneimneh (Sunni)

n Environment Minister: Mohammad Rahal (Sunni)

n Information Minister: Tarek Mitri (Orthodox)

n Justice Minister: Ebrahim Najjar (Orthodox)

n Labour Minister: Boutros Harb (Maronite)

n Public Works and Transportation Minister: Gazi Aridi (Druze)

n Social Affairs Minister: Salim Al Sayegh (Maronite Christian)

n State Minister: Mona Ofeish (Sunni)

n State Minister: Wael Abu Faour (Druze)

n State Minister: Jean Ogassapian (ethnic Armenian) - Hezbollah, allies

n Foreign Affairs Minister: Ali Al Shami (Shiite)

n State Minister (Administrative Reform): Mohammad Fneish (Shiite)

n Agriculture Minister: Hussain Al Haj Hassan (Shiite)

n Energy Minister: Jibran Basil (Maronite) -

n Health Minister: Mohammad Jawad Khalifa (Shiite)

n Industry Minister: Abraham Dedian (ethnic Armenian)

n Telecommunications Minister: Charbel Nahhas (Catholic)

n Tourism Minister: Fadi Aboud (Maronite)

n Youth and Sports Minister: Ali Al Abdullah (Shiite)

n State Minister: Yousuf Sa'adeh (Maronite) - Sulaiman loyalist

n Minister of Defence, Deputy Prime Minister: Elyas Al Murr


n Interior Minister: Ziad Baroud (Maronite)

n State Minister: Adnan Al Kassar (Sunni)

n State Minister: Talal Al Makdessi (Catholic)

n State Minister: Adnan Al Sayyad Hussain (Shiite)

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Nov 11, 2009
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