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New Govt formed in Lebanon

BEIRUT:

Lebanon on Saturday formed a compromise government after a 10-month stalemate in the country, which has seen the war in neighbouring Syria exacerbate longstanding political divisions.

“After 10 months of efforts, of patience, a government protecting the national interest is born,” said Tammam Salam, Lebanon’s new prime minister.

“It is a unifying government and the best formula to allow Lebanon to confront challenges,” said Salam, who was tasked with forming the government back in April 2013 after the resignation of his predecessor Najib Mikati.

Suhail Al Bouji, the secretary general of the Governmental Palace, announced the 24-member cabinet divides ministers between the pro-Syrian Hezbollah coalition March 8 and the Western-backed 14 gathering, as well as centrists.

Former energy minister Gebran Bassil was appointed foreign minister and former health minister Ali Hassan Khalil takes over the Finance Ministry, according to a statement read out by Al Bouji live on television.

The new government, which will include both the powerful Shiite Hezbollah group and its allies and the Sunni-led bloc of former prime minister Sa’ad Hariri, sharply differ on a range of issues, including the war in Syria, where Hezbollah backs the government with fighters and Hariri’s bloc supports the opposition.

The new government also faces a deteriorating security situation in Lebanon, which has been rocked in recent months by a spate of car and suicide bomb attacks linked to the war in Syria.

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