After Months of Dissent, Lebanon Forms New Government

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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Lebanon has formed a new Cabinet five months after the militant group Hezbollah and its allies forced the country’s coalition government to collapse.

A government official announced the new Cabinet led by Hezbollah-backed Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Monday.  The Hezbollah-led bloc holds the majority of seats in the 30-member Cabinet.

Mr. Mikati must now present his new government to parliament for approval.

The country had functioned without an official government since mid-January, when the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri fell apart.

Hezbollah members and their allies withdrew from the national unity Cabinet at that time due to disagreements about a United Nations-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A sealed draft indictment submitted by U.N. prosecutors is believed to implicate Hezbollah members in the Beirut truck bombing that killed the elder Mr. Hariri.

Mr. Mikati secured the prime minister’s post in January with the support of Hezbollah and other opposition blocs in parliament. Some in Lebanon fear the growing influence of his pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian backers.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated Lebanon on its formation of a new government in a telephone call Monday. Syria is a strong ally of Hezbollah.