Date :Monday, February 4th, 2019 | Time : 07:40 |ID: 85330 | Print

The composition of Lebanon national unity government

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SHAFAQNA | By Leila Yazdani : Lebanon unveiled the new Cabinet lineup on Thursday, ending nine months of political deadlock during which the country had only an interim government. After 252 days of political wrangling and increasingly serious economic struggles, the political factions in Lebanon finally announced the formation of a national unity government.

After nine months of deadlock, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced the formation of a new government of 30 ministers, mei told.

Lebanon had been mired in a political crisis that left the country without a government since May, when the last Cabinet resigned following parliamentary elections, as required by the country’s constitution.

In the absence of a government, Lebanon’s economy, in decline even before the elections, deteriorated further. The World Bank had previously warned that conditional loans and grants worth $11bn might be redirected if Lebanon did not form a government, aljazeera reported.

The news that a government had been formed had an immediate, positive effect on Lebanon’s sovereign dollar bonds, reported Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

Long delays in the formation of cabinets are common in Lebanon due to the country’s political system, which allocates power on the basis of sectarian affiliation, sputniknews mentioned.

Lebanon is governed by a complex system which aims to maintain a precarious balance of power across religious and political communities. But finding that equilibrium in government cabinets often takes time.

The composition of the government is reflective of Lebanon’s power-sharing system

The composition of the government is reflective of Lebanon’s power-sharing system and of the results of the last parliamentary elections.

Although the old categories of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions are no longer very meaningful, the erstwhile March 8 coalition got 18 seats and the erstwhile March 14 coalition secured 12. President Michel Aoun and his party, the Free Patriotic Movement, have the largest single bloc of 10 — the largest bloc for a president since the Taif Agreement of 1989 — while Hariri’s Future Movement has the second largest at six, the Lebanese Forces at four, and Hezbollah and Amal at three each. Hezbollah chose three people, including Jamil Jabak, as the new health minister, despite the fact that he is not a member, press tv mentioned. Hezbollah is a major political party within Lebanon, which has a complex political system designed to ensure representation for all religious factions, according to msn.

The election results in May last year strengthened Hezbollah’s hold over Lebanon as its allies scored a majority of seats. Hariri’s Future bloc lost a third of its legislators, securing only 17 of the 27 legislative seats allocated to Sunnis. Although Hariri maintains his position as the political leader of the Sunnis in Lebanon, losing Sunni voters revealed his weakening grip on power.

The Future Movement’s Rhea Al-Hassan becomes the first female interior minister in the country’s history. In all, four women are included in the government, double the previous number.

The Kataeb Lebanese party is not represented for a second consecutive time.

The Future Movement and its allies are represented by: Al-Hassan; Mohammed Choucair as minister of communications; Jamal Al-Jarrah as minister of information; Violette Khairallah as state minister for social and economic rehabilitation for youth and women; and Adel Afyouni as state minister for information technology affairs, arabnews reported.

Lebanese Forces is represented by: Ghassan Atallah as deputy prime minister; May Chidiac as state minister for administrative development; Richard Kyumjian as social affairs minister; and Kamil Abou Sleiman as labor minister.

The ministers affiliated with Hezbollah and its allies are: Mohammad Fneish as youth and sports minister, Mahmoud Qamati as state minister for parliament affairs; and Jamil Sobhi Jabaq as health minister.

The Amal movement is represented by: Ali Hassan Khalil as finance minister; Hassan Al-Lakis as agriculture minister; and Mohammad Daoud Daoud as culture minister.

From the Strong Lebanon Bloc, Gebran Bassil kept his seat as minister of foreign affairs; Elias Abou Saab is defense minister, Nada Boustany is energy and water minister; Salim Jreissati is state minister for presidential affairs; Fadi Jreissati is environment minister; Albert Serhan is justice minister and Mansour Bteish is economy and trade minister.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation is represented by Avedis Kidanian as tourism minister and Ghassan Atallah as displaced minister, while the representatives of the Democratic Gathering Bloc are Wael Abou Faour as industry minister and Akram Chouhayeb as education minister. Saleh al-Gharib represents Druze leader Talal Erslan as state minister for refugees affairs, and Marada is represented by Youssef Finianos, who keeps his seat as public works and transport minister. Hassan Mrad, representing the Sunni opposition, was appointed state minister for foreign trade affairs.

Lebanon’s political system awards posts and patronage spoils to politicians of different religious affiliations in order to maintain a balance among the country’s 18 officially recognized religious sects.

The U.S. is concerned about Hezbollah

By picking the health minister, the Hezbollah group will be moving beyond the marginal role it played in past governments; the ministry has the fourth-biggest budget in the state apparatus.

The United States has urged Lebanon to deprive the Hezbollah resistance movement of all official funds following the formation of a new government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The U.S. is concerned about Hezbollah group naming a health minister and two other posts in Lebanon’s Cabinet .

On Friday, the United States warned Hezbollah against propping up its agenda with its new position, which includes key posts in Lebanon’s government, including in the Ministry of Health, nytimes told. American officials are concerned Hezbollah will use the ministry to provide state-subsidized health care and patronage jobs to its supporters, helping it endure punishing American sanctions that have made it difficult for the group to offer its usual social services to its Shiite Muslim base.

In October, the administration of Donald Trump imposed a new round of sanctions on the movement, targeting individuals and international organizations that do business with the group.

The politicians and Analysts are confident Lebanon national unity government will survive until the election of a new president three years from now. But Lebanon is facing a slew of governance problems, including a dire fiscal situation, a poor economy, high levels of corruption, and low levels of public services. The government needs to move quickly to enact a number of key reforms.

 

Read more from Shafaqna:

LEBANON EXPERIENCES A GOVERNMENT FORMATION CRISIS          

LEBANESE ANALYST: US SANCTIONS DID NOT AFFECT THE FORMATION OF LEBANON GOVERNMENT       

LEBANON: HARIRI HOPES FOR GOVERNMENT FORMATION SOON     

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