Thursday marks a big day in the history of Lebanon as different political factions have finally agreed to form a new government, ending the nine-month long dead-lock. The new government would be headed by Saad Hariri, leader of the largest Sunni party, which is also backed by Western forces. Hariri, who has held the prime minister’s office since 2016, called the new government “a reflection of Lebanon’s image in 2019.”
Lebanon has not been able to form a government since elections in May because of political wrangling. Lebanese political parties have been vying over the allocation of different cabinet positions, making the country’s economy more fragile.
Hariri was finally able to strike a deal with Shia militant group Hizbollah, by offering them three portfolios including the ministry of health and moving them into a more significant role as compared to the past governments.
Beirut celebrated the announcement with huge fireworks and rallies in support of Hariri. Hariri, who is now serving his third term, said, “We must turn the page and start working.”
Mentioning about the country’s urgent need to form a new government due to deepening economic crisis he said, “There isn’t any more time to waste. We owe the Lebanese an apology for the delay, especially to the young men and women waiting for a glimmer of hope to fix conditions.” Lebanon has the world’s third-highest debt-GDP ratio, with over $81 billion in debt.
In the new government, no one party has veto power or the majority, although Mr Hariri can prevent the government from meeting at any point and can resign to force the collapse of the government at any time.
The sectarian breakdown of the 30-member government includes Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which got the biggest share with 10 seats, while Shia duo Hizbollah and Amal Movement got six seats combined. Hariri’s own party n six seats while his allies the Christian Lebanese Forces got four, the Progressive Socialist Party, the major Druze party, got two seats and the remaining seat was given to the Sunni opposition group.
The cabinet would hold its first meet on Saturday. For the first time, the Lebanese cabinet includes four women, including Rhea al-Hasan as the country’s first female interior minister.