New government formed in Lebanon after 11 month deadlock

Saturday 15 February 2014 23.08
'A government in the national interest was formed in a spirit of inclusivity,' new Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared on live television
'A government in the national interest was formed in a spirit of inclusivity,' new Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared on live television

Lebanon announced a new government, breaking a 10-month political deadlock during which spillover violence from neighbouring Syria worsened internal instability.
              
A caretaker government has run the country since former Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned in March.

Parties aligned with the Shia Hezbollah movement and a Sunni-led rival bloc pursued a power struggle exacerbated by their support for opposing sides in Syria's almost three-year-old civil war.
              
"A government in the national interest was formed in a spirit of inclusivity," new Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared on live television.
              
He said he hoped the new government would allow Lebanon to hold presidential elections before President Michel Suleiman's mandate expires in May.

Parliament designated the Sunni politician as prime minister in April 2013.

He had been unable to form a cabinet for months due to rivalries between the Hezbollah-dominated 8 March bloc and the 14 March alliance, led by the Sunni Future Party.              

Mr Salam said his "national interest government" had a mandate to fight mounting security problems, which he linked to Syria.
              
Sectarian violence has erupted sporadically in the past year, particularly in the north.

Lebanon, still struggling to recover from its own 1975-1990 civil war, has found its internal rifts aggravated by the conflict in Syria, whose sectarian divisions mirror its own.
              
Hezbollah, a militant and political movement supported by Shia Iran, is one of the most powerful groups in Lebanon and fought an inconclusive war with Israel in 2006.

It has sent fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad, whose minority Alawite sect is a Shia offshoot.
              
The Future party supports the anti-Assad uprising ledlargely by the Syria's Sunni majority.
              
Syria's war has stoked a region-wide struggle for influence involving Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled states against Iran and its Shia allies in Lebanon and Iraq.
              
The Lebanese cabinet deal could signal that those powers want to stem the sectarian violence convulsing Syria and rippling across Lebanon, Iraq and other countries.
              

Keywords: lebanon, politics