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Lebanese factions broker deal in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar, May 21 (UPI) — Lebanese opposition movements and the Western-backed government declared a deal Wednesday in Qatar to end the 18-month political conflict and elect a president.

The Shiite opposition and the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora agreed to elect Lebanese army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman as president within 24 hours, give Hezbollah veto power in the Cabinet and adopt an electoral law that reflects a sectarian power-sharing arrangement, The New York Times said.

Qatari authorities in Doha said the arrangement paves the way for a unity government with 16 Cabinet positions for the ruling majority, 11 for the opposition, including Hezbollah, and three seats nominated by Suleiman.

A new electoral law mandates all parties to “commit themselves not to use weapons or violence in order to achieve political gains under any circumstances,” however that language leaves the status of Hezbollah weapons ambiguous, the Times said.

The relationship between Lebanon and the U.N. investigation into the Feb. 14, 2005, assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 10 others was left unresolved as well, the Times said.

The talks put an end to weeks of violence rocking Lebanon. Hezbollah fighters took to the streets May 7 when the Siniora government announced its opposition to the movement's private telecommunications network.



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors