Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman on Friday decreed the formation of a national unity cabinet, which includes two Armenians in its lineup of ministers.
The unity cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Fouad Saniorai, consists of 30 ministers from the six major sects in a nation made up of 18 religious communities. Alain Tabourian will serve as Minister of Energy and Water, while Jean Ogassapian will serve as one of five Ministers of State.
The cabinet was announced after Suleiman, a Maronite Christian, met Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a Sunni Muslim, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shi’ite Muslim.
“This government has two main tasks: regaining confidence in the Lebanese political system;and securing the holding of a transparent parliamentary election,” Siniora told reporters.
The new team also has one Hezbollah minister in addition to 10 ministers from its Shi’ite, Druze and Christian allies. Hezbollah and its allies effective veto power, as agreed under a deal that ended a paralyzing political conflict in the country.
The birth of the government, the first under newly elected President Michel Suleiman, should close a long political crisis that had threatened to plunge Lebanon into a new civil war.
But it also marks the start of a challenging new era in which leaders must contain rising sectarian tensions, prepare for a parliamentary election next year and start talks on the fate of Iranian-and Syrian-backed Hezbollah’s military wing.