Khazen thanks Lebanese President General Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Tammam Salam for forming new government & their leadership to keep Lebanon safe.

 Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam has formed a national unity government, more than 10 months after he became prime minister. Salam’s 24-member national unity Cabinet was announced at the presidential palace and includes members of the Western-backed coalition as well as those of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its allies.

 Salam was unable to form a cabinet until now because of deep divisions among Lebanese political groups, mostly over the civil war in neighbouring Syria. "After 10 months of efforts, of patience, a government protecting the national interest is born," the AFP news agency quoted the prime minister as saying. "It is a unifying government and the best formula to allow Lebanon to confront challenges," said Salam, who was tasked with forming the government back in April 2013 after the resignation of his predecessor, Najib Mikati. "This is a unity Cabinet that represents at the present time the best formula for Lebanon with all the political, security, economic and social challenges it is facing," Salam told reporters shortly after his government was announced. "The national interest Cabinet was formed with the spirit of gathering not divisions and meeting not defiance." Salam said the Cabinet aims to "strengthen national security and stand against all kinds of terrorism." He said that the Cabinet will also face the social issue of nearly a million Syrian refugees who fled for safety in Lebanon, which has a population of some 4 million.

 Portfolios divided

A self-avowed centrist, Salam, 68, was appointed on April 6, 2013, after a fall out among ministers led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati. In his televised address to the Lebanese, Salam said his Cabinet was in line with the National Pact and left no room for political disruptions. “I distributed the 24 portfolios in a way that achieves [sectarian] balance and national partnership at a distance from the negative effects of disruptions,” he said. Salam also noted his government adopted the principle of rotating ministerial portfolios based on party and sect. He said the mechanism would “liberate ministries from sectarian chains.”

He said his Cabinet would be able to ensure the necessary atmosphere to hold National Dialogue sessions, the timely elections of the next president and draft a new elections law for the country. The newly formed Cabinet brings together Lebanon’s rival March 14 and March 8 coalitions as well as so-called centrist figures loyal to the president, Salam and Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt. While Hezbollah was allotted two portfolios in the government, the Future Movement has four ministers including the sovereign Interior Ministry. Salam named Samir Moqbel as deputy prime minister and defense minister. Nuhad Mashnouq was named interior minister, Gebran Bassil foreign minister and Ali Hasan Khalil finance minister. Retired Police Chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, seen as a controversial figure by the March 8 coalition, was appointed justice minister. The Energy portfolio was handed to Tashnag MP Arthur Nazarian. The government line-up includes only one female minister – Judge Alice Shabtini for the Ministry for the Displaced.

The cabinet included all Lebanese parties, except for the Lebanese Forces, which maintained its stance against participating in a cabinet that includes ministers representing Hezbollah.

 Here’s the new cabinet lineup:

 Tammam Salam: Prime Minister

 Samir Moqbel: Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister

 March 14 MP Boutros Harb: Telecommunications Minister

 National Struggle Front MP Akram Chehayeb: Agriculture Minister

 Amal MP Ghazi Zeaiter: Public Works and Transportation Ministry.

 Change and Reform bloc MP Arthur Nazarian (Tashnaq Party): Energy Minister

 Future bloc MP Michel Pharaon: Tourism Minister

 Amal MP Ali Hassan Khalil: Finance Minister

 Hezbollah MP Mohammad Fneish: State Minister for Parliament Affairs

 Gebran Bassil (Free Patriotic Movement): Foreign Minister

 National Struggle Front MP Wael Abu Faour: Health Minister

 Hezbollah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan: Industry Minister

 Future bloc MP Nohad Mashnouq: Interior Minister

 Future bloc MP Nabil De Freige: State Minister for Administrative Reform

 Ramzi Jreij (President Michel Suleiman’s share): Information Minister

 Rasheed Derbas (Future Movement) : Social Affairs Minister

 Mohammad Mashnouq (PM Tammam Salam’s share): Environment Minister

 Alice Shebtini (President Michel Suleiman’s share): Displaced Minister

 Abdelmotleb Hannawi (President Michel Suleiman’s share): Youth and Sports Minister

 Sejaan Azzi (Kataeb): Labor Minister

 Ashraf Rifi (Future Movement): Justice Minister

 Alain Hakim (Kataeb): Economy Minister

 Remond Arayji (Marada Movement): Culture Minister

 Elias Abou Saab (Free Patriotic Movement): Education Minister

The Cabinet is not expected to remain in office long, as a new government should be formed after President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ends in May and a new head of state is elected