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Middle East

Lebanon MPs back cabinet to end deadlock

MPs approve government policy statement, which stops short of outlining specific Hezbollah role in resistance of Israel.

Last updated: 20 Mar 2014 23:33
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Salam's government will address presidential and parliamentary elections [Reuters]

Lebanon's parliament has approved a newly-formed government following lengthy negotiations over a policy statement on issues including the military role of the Shia movement, Hezbollah.

The approval on Thursday, by 96 of the 101 MPs who attended, ends almost a year of political deadlock and follows a compromise deal last week on policy which stopped short of outlining a specific military role for Hezbollah in resisting Israel.

The cabinet agreed on a formula that instead affirmed that all Lebanese citizens have the "right to resist the Israeli occupation, repel its attacks and take back the occupied territory".

Lebanon had been ruled by a caretaker government since last March, when Najib Mikati resigned from his role of prime minister as parties aligned with the Shia group, Hezbollah, and a Sunni-led rival March 14 bloc pursued a power struggle exacerbated by their support for opposing sides in the war in neighbouring Syria.

His successor, Tammam Salam, formed a government last month but took weeks to agree on the policy document.

The government is not expected to remain in office long, however. A new cabinet should be formed after the six-year term of the president, Michel Suleiman, ends in May and a new head of state is elected.

Parliamentary polls, which were postponed last year due to the political impasse, are expected to follow.

Other priorities

Speaking shortly before the vote, Salam said MPs had highlighted three priorities for Lebanon: "Achieving security, addressing the tragedy of displaced Syrians and holding the presidential election on schedule."

But he warned against inflated expectations: "Nothing will be promised that the government cannot achieve, so do not expect miracles."

The statement also says the state will take "all possible measures to stimulate key economic sectors, first among them tourism", and "accelerate measures related to licensing for oil drilling and extraction".

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Source:
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