BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon’s prime minister-designate announced his new Cabinet on Tuesday, a government dominated by opponents of Syria but including a member of the militant Hezbollah group, which Washington brands a terrorist organization.
The 24-member Cabinet, the first since Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon, omits prominent Christian representation of followers of former Gen. Michel Aoun.
The formation of the new government concludes almost three weeks of political squabbling over key posts. Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud repeatedly demanded changes in Prime Minister-designate Fuad Saniora’s suggested lineups.
Saniora said he was “proud” his Cabinet includes lawmaker Mohammed Fneish from the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah, which continues to stage guerrilla assaults against Israel in a disputed border area in southern Lebanon.
“I think this is an excellent thing for Hezbollah to have a presence in this government,” he said. “This is very natural. They are part of this country and consequently they have a right to have representatives in this government.”…
Washington reaction was swift. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States will have no dealings with any Lebanese Cabinet minister who is a member of Hezbollah but that there would be no impediment to working with the entire Lebanese government.
Aoun, the former army commander who returned to Lebanon from 14 years of exile in France, had wanted the Justice portfolio but was refused. It went instead to Lahoud ally Charles Rizk.
Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fneish received the power and hydraulic resources ministry, while the militant group’s ally, Tarrad Hamadeh, retained the post of labor minister…