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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Jul 08th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Opinions and Editorials arrow Hezbollah gets more power in deal with government
Hezbollah gets more power in deal with government PDF Print E-mail
Written by CTV.ca News Staff   
Wednesday, 21 May 2008


A deal between Lebanon's Western-backed government and Hezbollah was reached Wednesday, with the militant group gaining more control over the country's political system.

The agreement, negotiated in Qatar with the help of Arab mediators, will end 18-months of political crisis that has engulfed the country.

CTV's Janis Mackey Frayer, reporting from Jerusalem, said Wednesday that the deal is a "huge victory" for Lebanon's Hezbollah-led opposition.

The new powers appear certain to heighten fears in the West about Hezbollah.

The militant group was able to have its two key demands met:

Veto power in a new national unity government
An electoral law that divides up Lebanon into smaller-sized districts, for better representation of the various sects

"What this will do is acknowledge that nearly 40 per cent of the population of Lebanon is Shia and it has only 18 per cent of the parliamentary seats," said Frayer.

"By creating this new political structure for Lebanon, the Shia population, the allies of Hezbollah and its other Christian allies are going to have the representation that they're looking for."

In total, along with its veto power, the opposition will get 11 seats in the Cabinet. Sixteen seats will go to the U.S. and Western-backed parliament majority.

The remaining three seats will be distributed by the elected president.

Leaders react

Hezbollah's chief negotiator, Mohammed Raad, downplayed the new powers on Wednesday.

"Neither side got all it demanded, but (the agreement) is a good balance between all parties' demands," he said.

Syria, which backs Hezbollah, endorsed the deal Wednesday.

"Lebanon's security and stability are important and vital to Syria's security and stability," said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

Meanwhile, pro-government politician and parliament majority leader, Saad Hariri, appeared to acknowledge that his side had largely caved in to opposition demands.

"I know that the wounds are deep and my injury is deep, but we only have each other to build Lebanon," he said after the announcement of the deal.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said Wednesday in Doha that the agreement will be "carried out immediately'' and that the election of a new Lebanese president will follow within 24 hours.

Gen. Michel Suleiman, the head of Lebanon's mostly neutral army, is expected to become the country's new president -- a post which has been vacant since last November.

The agreement was reached following the worst internal fighting in Lebanon since the 1975-90 civil war.

Earlier this month, at least 67 people were killed when clashes broke out between rival factions in Beirut and elsewhere.

The fighting displayed the strength of Hezbollah as pro-government forces were pushed out of some strongholds.

With files from The Associated Press



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