Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lebanese leaders resume crisis talks on government

Lebanese leaders resume crisis talks on government

Anti-Syrian leaders in Lebanon were set on Thursday to reject a Hezbollah demand for more cabinet seats for its allies that would give the opposition effective veto power over the Western-backed government. Rival Lebanese factions, resuming crisis talks that began on Monday, were expected to debate a proposal to reshuffle the government to give Hezbollah and its allies nine ministers in a 26-seat cabinet, political sources said. The sources said majority coalition leaders would reject the proposal, put forward by former deputy prime minister Michel al-Murr. The coalition is willing to bring in representatives of Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, but not to surrender a third of seats to the opposition, they said. A third of ministers plus one can block motions in cabinet and automatically bring down the government by resigning. Syrian-backed Hezbollah, which claimed victory in its war with Israel in July and August, has led calls for a change in the government now dominated by anti-Syrian politicians from the majority bloc in parliament.

Hezbollah accuses Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of failing to back it during the war and of supporting U.S. and Israeli demands for the disarmament of its guerrillas. The guerrilla group, popular with Lebanon's large Shi'ite Muslim community, has threatened to stage mass demonstrations demanding new parliamentary elections unless more of its allies are admitted to the cabinet by mid-November. Hezbollah and its main ally Amal have five ministers in a government of 24. Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud has one ally in the cabinet. Opponents of Syria control the other ministries. Rival demonstrations by the pro- and anti-Syrian camps would further destabilize Lebanon and could degenerate into violence. The killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005 led to mass protests against Syria, which many Lebanese blamed for the assassination. Damascus denies any involvement. Under international pressure, Syria ended a 29-year military presence in its smaller neighbor in April last year and anti-Syrian politicians swept to victory in ensuing elections.

1 comment:

MarxistFromLebanon said...

this stalemate is suffocating the nation...

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