Opposition agrees to join Lebanese government

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saad al-Hariri
Image: Maximus0970.

Lebanese opposition parties, including Hezbollah, have agreed to form a government under designated Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. "The Lebanese opposition has approved the proposed unity government," said a senior source, after oppositions leaders met late last night. According to the source the new government should be formed within two days.

Saad Hariri, backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia, led his allegedly anti-Syrian coalition to victory in June. Since the parliamentary elections he has sought to bring together a deal to form a cabinet, but has encountered many problems appointing ministers.

In July, the parties broadly agreed on the split of portfolios but not on the details. The new cabinet will feature thirty ministers, of which fifteen from al-Hariri's coalition and ten from opposition parties, including two from Hezbollah. The remaining five, which includes the posts for the ministries of the interior and for defence, will be appointed by President Michel Suleiman.

Ziad Baroud and Michel Murr, ministers for the interior and defence respectively, are expected to remain. New foreign and finance portfolios are set to be announced; al-Hariri proposed Raya Hassan as minister for finance, but opposition parties rejected him. Sources expect Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon Nabih Berri, Hezbollah's main Shia Islamic ally, to name the new foreign minister.