Middle East

Lebanon unveils 30-member unity government

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) meets Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the presidential palace in Baabda, east Beirut, Lebanon, 18 December 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Michel Aoun, left, invited Saad Hariri to form a government in November

Lebanon has named a new 30-member government of national unity to be led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Mr Hariri said the cabinet's priority would be to "preserve stability" amid turbulence in the region.

It includes most political groups, including the militant Hezbollah, but the Christian Phalangist party rejected the portfolio it was offered.

Among the new portfolios are an anti-corruption post and a minister for women's affairs.

In a statement, Mr Hariri, 46, said the government would act to "preserve our country from the negative consequences of the Syrian crisis".

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Cabinet Secretary-General Fouad Fleifel said its first meeting would be held on Wednesday.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun asked Mr Hariri to form a new government in November.

Mr Hariri is a leading Sunni Muslim political figure and previously served as prime minister between 2009 and 2011.

His return was expected as part of a deal that saw Mr Aoun, a Christian and a former general in the country's army, elected president.

That ended a political stalemate in Lebanon that had lasted 29 months.

Lebanon faces difficult challenges related to the civil war in neighbouring Syria and is struggling to cope with the influx of more than one million refugees.

There are also major problems with the economy, infrastructure and basic services.

Lebanon is due to hold parliamentary elections next May.

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