- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 17 (UPI) — Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri Thursday formed a new 30-member Cabinet that included 11 newcomers but excluded Christian opponents and the Hezbollah militant group.

The new half-Muslim, half-Christian government was announced two days after Hariri submitted the resignations of his old Cabinet and completed necessary parliamentary consultations.

It includes in its majority supporters or sympathizers of Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon. It gathers supporters of Hariri and President Emile Lahoud, as well as of the Shiite Amal movement, the Druze Progressive Socialist Party, the Baath Party, the National Syrian Socialist Party and the Christian Phalange Party.

Nine ministers retained their portfolios. They are Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares; State Minister Talal Irslan; Minister of Health Suleiman Franjiyeh; Minister of Social Affairs Asaad Diab; Minister of Finance Fouad Seniora; Minister of Transportation Najib Mikati; Minister of Sports and Youth Sebouh Hohnanian; Minister of Interior Elias Murr, and Minister of Telecommunications Jean-Louis Kordahi.

The newcomers included:

— Minister of Labor Asaad Hardan

— Minister of the Environment Fares Boueiz

— Minister of Information Michel Samaha

— Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Obeid

— Minister of Electricity Ayyoub Humayed

— Minister of Industry Elias Skaf

— Minister of State Assam Kansou

— Minister of Agriculture Ali Hassan Khalil

— Minister of the Displaced Abdallah Farhat

— Minister of Administrative Develoment Affairs Karim Pakradouni

— Minister of Tourism Ali Hussein Abdallah

Nine ministers from the former Cabinet got new portfolios. They include Marwan Hamade, who was named minister of economy; Bahij Tabbara, minister of justice; Ghazi Aridi, minister of culture; Mahmoud Hammoud, minister of defense and Samir Jisr, education minister.

Hariri's new Cabinet failed to include representatives of the Christian opposition, which criticizes Syria's military presence in Lebanon, and the militant Hezbollah group, which expressed readiness to join the new government.

Hezbollah, which fought Israeli forces until their withdrawal from south Lebanon in May 2000 after 22 years of occupation, is represented in the 128-member parliament with an 11-member bloc.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington, the United States added Hezbollah to its list of terrorist groups. Washington is pressuring Syria to stop supporting it, along with other Palestinian militant groups.

Thousands of Syrian soldiers were still stationed in eastern Lebanon and some parts of the northern areas and mountains. The gradual pullout of Syrian forces began two years ago from Beirut and its environs, as well as from the southern coastal line and several areas in the Metn region and northern Lebanon.

Syria first deployed its forces in Lebanon as part of an Arab deterrent force in 1976 to try to stop the country's civil war.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide