Lebanon News

Security tops new Cabinet's to-do list

After 20 days of negotiations and compromises, the government of Premier Fouad Siniora finally formed a government, but without representatives from the Free Patriotic Movement's bloc, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the Baath Party or the Phalange Party.

President Emile Lahoud got a share alongside the Bristol gathering, or the parliamentary majority (72 MPs), that is, the Future Movement bloc, the Democratic Gathering bloc, the Lebanese Forces, and the Qornet Shehwan Gathering, in addition to Hizbullah and the Amal Movement.

The birth of the new government was a complicated one; Siniora proposed four line-ups, the first comprising of 24 ministers, including Aoun's parliamentary bloc, the second was extra-parliamentarian and comprised of 30 ministers, the third was formed of 24 ministers without Aoun, and the fourth was the one adopted on Tuesday.

Siniora described the government, which includes a Hizbullah minister for the first time as well as two ministers who are not MPs, as one of work and production.

As difficult as it was to form this government, the issues awaiting the new Cabinet are also extremely complicated, and after five months of bombing and assassination it is the security issues that have become the people's primary concern.

Needless to say, security is the Cabinet's top priority. Officials used to warn that anybody who messed with security would be severely punished but where are such warnings now? What has happened to the country's security apparatus?  Will their role of defending the people be reactivated with the coming of a new government, and will new security chiefs be appointed?

There is also the complicated issue of Lebanese-Syrian relations, after Syria took measures that almost amounted to a closing of the mutual border and arrested Lebanese fishermen who were in regional waters as if both countries were at war.

The government will also have to address the issue of reform on the political, administrative and economic levels in order to create a credible image of Lebanon in the eyes of the international community and enable Lebanon to benefit from willing Western aid.

According to diplomatic sources, this aid will not depend on any official position regarding UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and its implementation.

However, this does not mean the West has abandoned its call for the Lebanese authorities to implement the resolution, especially regarding the disarming of Hizbullah and the Palestinians in country's refugee camps.

This issue requires an internal national dialogue and consensus among the Lebanese, as all parties admit Hizbullah's weapons are the weapons of a resistance movement rather than those of a militia, and are linked to developments in the region and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

These are just a few of the issues Siniora's government needs to address, knowing that while some of them are complicated others are impossible. However, there are issues that could be agreed upon, especially those related to fighting corruption and adopting transparency, as they are common to all political parties.

But, regarding the fulfillment of the people's ambitions and desires on more than one level, the government's mission remains impossible, especially since the coming phase may witness an internal political showdown resulting from the investigations of the international commission.

 

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