Lebanese premier forms new government after months of wrangling

Beirut - By Weedah Hamzah, - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri formed a national unity cabinet on Thursday, after inconclusive elections in May gave way to nearly nine months of quarrelling between rival political groups.

The new 30-member cabinet includes three members of Hezbollah, the Shiite movement trained and financed by Iran and closely allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Hariri is a staunch critic of al-Assad.
The announcement came after al-Hariri met with President Michel Aoun and House Speaker Nabih Berri.
Al-Hariri apologized to the Lebanese people for the delay in forming a new government and called on the newly-appointed ministers to cooperate with one another.
Lebanon's new government will focus on tackling economic issues through financial and economic reforms, he said.
"My government will be the government that invests in development," Hariri said. 
Hezbollah members managed to secure the portfolios of the Health and Sports and Youth Ministries, as well as the position of state minister for parliament affairs. 
Raya al-Hassan, a member of al-Hariri's Mustaqbal movement, is one of four women appointed to the cabinet and will be the first woman to lead Lebanon's interior ministry.
Shortly after the cabinet announcement fireworks lit up the sky over the capital in celebration.
Al-Hariri had blamed the delay in forming the cabinet on Hezbollah, whose chief Hassan Nasrallah insisted that several Sunni lawmakers loyal to the Shiite movement be added to the cabinet to boost Hezbollah's influence. 
Under the Lebanese constitution, the president should be a Christian, the premier a Sunni Muslim, and the house speaker a Shiite Muslim.
Al-Hariri was nominated last May by Aoun to form a national unity government.


Thursday, January 31st 2019
By Weedah Hamzah,

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