|Lebanon's PM proposes new government to Lahoud
|BEIRUT(1:45 PM) - Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Friday he had proposed a new government line-up to President Emile Lahoud that includes members of parliament and political parties.
Siniora said he proposed the 24-minister line-up after abandoning efforts to seek a government of technocrats following strong opposition from his allies. He said he was expecting to hear a reply from Lahoud soon.
The proposed government excludes supporters of Christian leader Michel Aoun, head of the largest Christian bloc in the 128-seat parliament, reducing prospects Lahoud would approve it.
"I proposed to the president a version consisting of 24 ministers which I do believe has the backing of over 100 members of parliament," Siniora told reporters after meeting Lahoud, a close Syria ally.
"I think this is very democratically representative of the parliament and the best that one can come up with."
Siniora, a member of a coalition that pushed for Syria's pullout from Lebanon, said on Thursday he would seek to form a government of technocrats after failing to win agreement on a cabinet drawn from the various political groups.
But problems quickly emerged when anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt informed Siniora he would not cooperate in forming such a cabinet and that his 16-member bloc would vote against it in parliament, forcing the prime minister to drop the idea.
A new government would be the first since Syria ended its 29-year military presence in Lebanon in April. It faces many challenges including restoring stability following bombings and assassinations, political reform and tackling a huge debt.
It also has to deal with a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding the disarming of anti-Israeli Hizbollah guerrillas.