Both of Lebanon’s political groupings agreed on the former army chief, Michel Suleiman, who is as close to a neutral public figure as you can find in Lebanon at the moment.
He will preside over the first government since November 2006 with representatives from all the major parties.
There will be 30 ministers – 16 of them from the Western-leaning parties, who back the Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora.
Eleven are supporters of what was the opposition grouping, which includes Hezbollah.
With more than a third of the cabinet seats, that party and its allies now have a veto on the major decisions of the government. " BBC
A veto? That makes it sound like the Doha agreement contained a provision that allowed Hizbullah as a party to simply deny passage to any action of the Lebanese government that it does not like. No. That is not the case. What "veto" really means here is that there is now recognition that the "opposition group" has enough seats in parliament to block passage by the majority of measures which constitutionally require a super-majority. That is called constitutional democracy. The "opposition group" won those seats in the last parliamentary election.
The political impasse of the last year and a half resulted from the unwillingness of the Siniora government to apportion cabinet seats in a way that reflected the result of that parliamentary election.
The Lebanese government refused to do so largely because its foreign sponsors (the US, France and Saudi Arabia) encouraged it to do so. To make a refusal to empower rivals is always tempting in Lebanon where the chance to "screw" other Lebanese who are not members of one’s own community continues to be an urgent psychological imperative.
In the end, common sense and external Arab mediation won the day and peace will descend over the Lebanon for a while.
In a related matter President Sarkozy of France has invited President Bashar Assad to be his guest at the Bastille Day festivities in Paris where Assad will meet with the new Lebanese president, Suleiman. In the context of continuing German sponsorship of Israeli/Syrian peace talks all of this is good news indeed.
Where is Secretary Rice in all this? Nowhere. pl