Some six months after the US-backed March 14th faction’s coalition government collapsed, the rival March 8 bloc, backed by the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement, has finally managed to form its own government, as parliament approved the new cabinet.
The cabinet vote followed a contentious debate, and repeated demands by March 14 members that Hezbollah officials be barred from the new cabinet as a result of the UN Special Tribunal’s findings. The March 14 coalition walked out during the vote, once it was clear their side had lost.
The confidence vote on the cabinet is a significant move, and finally ends the Hariri caretaker government. The debate over the Special Tribunal, however is expected to continue for months and potentially years to come.
Another issue will be what the Obama Administration does, having repeatedly “vetoed” the cabinet in the past and repeatedly threatened to withdraw all aid if the March 8 faction successfully formed the government. Lebanon is clearly keen to keep its foreign aid, but was not willing to do so at the expense of letting them dictate the composition of the government.
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