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Lebanonwire, April 18, 2003

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Lebanon's new Cabinet: Members list, observations
Formed Thursday, April 17, 2003

Rafic Hariri: Prime Minister (Sunnite, MP)
Issam Fares: Deputy Prime Minister (Greek Orthodox, MP)
Bahij Tabbara: Minister of Justice (Sunnite)
Marwan Hamadi: Minister of Economy and Trade (Druze, MP)
Assad Hardan: Minister of Labor (Greek Orthodox, MP)
Faris Boeize: Minister of Environment (Maronite, MP)
Talal Arsalan: Minister of State (Druze, MP)
Suleiman Franjieh: Minister of Public Health (Maronite, MP)
Asaad Diab: Minister of Social Affairs (Shiite)
Michel Samaha: Minister of Information (Catholic)
Fouad Siniora: Minister of Finance (Sunnite)
Abdul Rahim Morad: Minister of State (Sunnite, MP)
Jean Obeid: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants (Maronite, MP)
Ayyoub Homayid: Minister of Hydroelectric Resources (Shiite, MP)
Michel Mousa: Minister of State (Catholic, MP)
Karam Karam: Minister of State (Greek Orthodox)
Najib Mikati: Minister of Public Works and Transport (Sunnite, MP)
Sebouh Hovnanian: Minister of Youth and Sports (Armenian, MP)
Khalil Hrawi: Minister of State (Maronite, MP)
Ghazi Aridi: Minister of Culture (Druze, MP)
Mahmoud Hammoud: Minister of National Defense (Shiite)
Samir Jisr: Minister of Education and Higher Studies (Sunnite)
Elias Al-Murr: Minister of Interior and Municipalities (Greek Orthodox, MP)
Jean-Louis Qordahi: Minister of Telecommunications ((Maronite)
Elie Skaff: Minister of Industry (Catholic, MP)
Assim Kanso: Minister of state (Shiite, MP)
Ali Hassan Khalil: Minister of Agriculture (Shiite, MP)
Abdallah Farhat: Minister of the Displaced (Maronite, MP)
Karim Pakradoni: Minister of Administrative Development (Armenian)
Ali Hussein Abdallah: Minister of Tourism (Shiite).

Observations:

1- Of the newcomers to the latest Cabinet, Asaad Hardan (labor) and Michel Samaha (information) are returning to portfolios that they held under earlier Hariri governments. Jean Obeid (foreign affairs), Ayoub Humayed (energy and water resources) and Fares Boueiz (environment) had also served as ministers in Hariri governments, with responsibility for education, social affairs and foreign affairs, respectively.

2- The new Cabinet, the fifth to be headed by Hariri, included 30 ministers of which 19 were in the outgoing Cabinet, and 11 were new comers. The change of names mainly affected the Shiite ministers, four of whom were discarded at the behest of Speaker Nabih Berri. Moreover, according to informed sources, the Cabinet reshuffle was to Berri’s advantage more than the other two top leaders. Ministers from other sects changed only slightly.

3- The major change at the top of the Cabinet was Jean Obeid, a pro-Syrian Christian from northern Lebanon, who was nominated foreign minister. Obeid, a newcomer to the Cabinet, replaces Mahmoud Hammoud, who was named defense minister-designate. The change is not expected to affect Lebanon’s foreign policy, which is staunchly pro-Syrian and anti-Israel.

4- Of the seven new Christian ministers, four are close to Damascus and had served in previous governments. The three others were recently received by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom they publicly praised. On the other hand, three "independent" Christians who had been on the cabinet lost their jobs.

5- A full two-thirds of the new ministers are members of the pro-Syrian parliamentary blocs headed by Hariri, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri and the chief of the Druze community, Walid Jumblatt. The others are directly aligned with Damascus without belonging to any bloc. It includes in its majority supporters or sympathizers of Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon. It gathers supporters of Hariri and President Emile Lahoud, as well as of the Shiite Amal movement, the Druze Progressive Socialist Party, the Baath Party, the National Syrian Socialist Party and the Christian Phalange Party.

6- Hariri, who is heading up his fifth government since 1992, has seen the number of his direct supporters chopped in half.

7- Observers see the changes as strengthening the influence of Damascus, and some consider it the most pro-Syrian cabinet since 1989.

8- Hariri's new Cabinet failed to include representatives of the Christian opposition, which criticizes Syria's
military presence in Lebanon, and the militant Hezbollah group, which expressed readiness to join the new
government.

9- Analysts believed the move was influenced by neighbouring Syria, and its desire to strengthen its position in the region in the face of growing tension with the US.

10- No substantial policy shifts in political or economic affairs are anticipated as a result of the changes, which have to be endorsed by parliament before they take effect.

11- Nine ministers retained their portfolios. They are Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares; State Minister Talal
Irslan; Minister of Health Suleiman Franjiyeh; Minister of Social Affairs Asaad Diab; Minister of Finance
Fouad Seniora; Minister of Transportation Najib Mikati; Minister of Sports and Youth Sebouh Hohnanian;
Minister of Interior Elias Murr, and Minister of Telecommunications Jean-Louis Kordahi.

12- The newcomers included:  Minister of Labor Asaad Hardan,  Minister of the Environment Fares Boueiz, Minister of Information Michel Samaha, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Obeid, Minister of Electricity Ayyoub Humayed,   Minister of Industry Elias Skaf, Minister of State Assam Kansou, Minister of Agriculture Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of the Displaced Abdallah Farhat, Minister of Administrative Develoment Affairs Karim Pakradouni, Minister of Tourism Ali Hussein Abdallah.

13- Nine ministers from the former Cabinet got new portfolios. They include Marwan Hamade, who was named
Minister of economy; Bahij Tabbara, Minister of justice; Ghazi Aridi, Minister of culture; Mahmoud Hammoud, Minister of defense and Samir Jisr, Education minister.

Shares per sect

Maronites
Suleiman Franjieh
Khalil Hrawi
Jean Obeid
Jean Louis Qordahi
Abdallah Farhat
Fares Boueiz

Shiites
Ayyoub Homayid
Dr. Ali Hussein Abdallah
Asaad Diab
Mahmoud Hammoud
Assem Qanso
Ali Hussein Khalil

Sunnites
Rafic Hariri
Fuad Siniora
Bahije Tabbara
Nejib Mikati
Samir Jisr
Abdul Rahim Murad

Orthodox
Issam Fares
Elias Murr
Asaad Hardan
Karam Karam

Catholic
Michel Samaha
Michel Moussa
Elie Skaff

Druze
Marwan Hamadeh
Ghazi Aridi
Talal Arslan

Armenian
Seboe Hovnanian

Minorities
Karim Pakradoni

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