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Lebanon: A Government to Boost Security, Revive Economy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hariri sitting with President Aoun in Baabda ahead of announcing his new cabinet on Sunday/NNA

Beirut – Lebanon announced on Sunday the first government operating under the era of President Michel Aoun although Prime Minister Saad Hariri refused to pin much hopes by describing it as a “cabinet of elections,” in reference to the upcoming parliamentary elections expected next spring.

Hariri gave his government other titles – mainly saying it would boost internal security and revive national economy that has suffered from the repercussions of the presidential vacuum that lasted two and a half years.

In his new 30-member cabinet, Hariri was forced to name 6 ministers of states without portfolios.

After the announcement of the decree forming the new government, Hariri said his cabinet would immediately address the issues that can be treated during the few months it will last, especially the crises facing the citizens like the waste, electricity and water problems.

“In politics, the first task of this government will be, in cooperation with Parliament, to reach a new electoral law that takes into account proportional representation and right representation, to organize parliamentary elections on time. In this sense, this government can be considered an elections government,” Hariri said. Hariri also said his new government aims to maintain the security and stability enjoyed by Lebanon despite the fires around it, and isolate the country from the negative fallout of the Syrian crisis. “In addition, the cabinet will make the international community assume its full responsibility in helping our country bear the burdens of the displacement of our Syrian brothers fleeing the brutality that Aleppo stands witness to today,” he said.

In the last few hours before the announcement of the new government, political forces had agreed to exchange ministries with an aim to remove the obstacles preventing its birth. An exchange of portfolios was conducted between President Aoun and MP Walid Jumblatt. The Justice Ministry was given to Aoun who appointed his advisor Salim Jreissati as minister. Jreissati served at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) as a legal advisor for the defense team of four members of the so-called Hezbollah accused of assassinating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The new justice minister is also one of the contributors in drafting the new Syrian constitution.

In return, Jumblatt received the Education Ministry and he appointed MP Marwan Hamade as the minister. As for the Agriculture Ministry, it was given to Speaker Nabih Berri in exchange of allocating the Health Ministry to the Lebanese Forces.

The new government includes 15 new ministers and one woman from the share of Berri.