Lebanon: National unity cabinet formed; PM: Differences behind us
Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman on Friday decreed the formation of a national unity cabinet, the first in his six-year term. The cabinet, presided over by premier Fouad Saniora, groups 30 ministers from seven major sects.
Maronite Ministers: Ziad Baroud, Nassib Lahoud, Tony Karam, Gebran Bassil and Mario Aoun. Greek Orthodox ministers: Issam Abu Jamra, Elias Murr, Ibrahim Najjar and Tareq Mitri, Raymond Audi.
Catholic ministers: Elie Skaff, and Youssef Takla.
Druze: Talal Arslan, Ghazi Aridi and Wael Abu Faour.
Sunnis: Fouad Saniora, Bahia Hariri, Mohammed Safadi, Tammam Salam and Mohammad Shatah and Khaled Qabbani
Shiites: Mohammed Fneish, Ali Qanso, Ibrahim Shamseddine, Mohammed Jawad Khalifa, Fawzi Salloukh and Ghazi Zoayter.
Armenians: Jean Ogassapian and Alain Taborian.
Meanwhile, Saniora on Friday set his cabinet's mission as managing differences among the various factions through state institutions and setting the stage for the 2009 parliamentary elections.
Saniora, talking to reporters, said "It also aims at regainig international and regional confidence in Lebanon's political system." "We want to stress to the world that the Lebanese government takes interests of all the Lebanese into consideration," Saniora said, according to Naharnet.
He termed his cabninet "The cabinet of unity and the cabinet of all Lebanon." "We have decided to manage our differences through institutes of the democratic system and not through submission", he added.
Saniora said "We won't guarantee transparent elections. It's the government's duty in cooperation with parliament to guarantee peaceful competition" among candidates.
Saniora emphasized that "The citizen's vote would decide who wins the elections and would lead the Lebanese to bolster Lebanon's sovereignty."
In answereing a question about harmony among the ministers, Saniora said:" Differences are behind us. The Lebanese people want a government that would lead them into the future."
"This process should be given all the chances to succeed. It is a big challenge," he concluded.