Late Friday, Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss unveiled a new cabinet of 16 ministers that is almost evenly divided between politicians and technocrats. The make-up also safeguards a confessional and regional balance while excluding political parties from being represented. The following ministers were chosen after two days of consultations held between the new premier and deputies in parliament. The new ministers were today handed their portfolios by their predecessors.
Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Immigrants Affairs
A Sunni born in Beirut in 1929, Mr. Hoss served as premier in 1976-1980 and 1987-1990. He also occupied the posts of education minister, labor minister, and MP since 1992.
Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs An Orthodox born in Bteghreen, Metn in 1932, Mr. Hoss also served as a deputy premier and an interior minister in the former cabinet. He was elected as Metn MP in 1968, 1992, and 1996. He has also held several portfolios in various cabinets.
-Mohammed Youssef Baydoun
Minister of Culture and Higher Education, Minister of Technical and Vocational Training, Minster of National Education, Youth Guidance and Sports
A Shiite born in Beirut in 1931, Mr. Baydoun has been a Beirut MP since 1972. He also served as oil and industry minister (1980-82) and held the electricity and water resources portfolio (1990-92).
Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Housing
A Maronite born in Zgharta in 1964, Mr. Franjieh served as a health minister in the former cabinet. He was elected as a Zgharta MP during the 1992 and 1996 parliamentary elections. He has also held several cabinet portfolios in 1990, 1992, and 1996.
Minister of Information, Minister of the War Displaced
A Druze born in Lagos in 1938, Mr. Khalil was elected as an MP for Marjayoon-Hasbayya in 1992 and 1996. He also held cabinet portfolios in 1992 and 1995.
Minister of National Defense
A Shiite born in Hermel in 1950, Mr. Zaayter won the election as a deputy in the 1996 elections. He was a practicing attorney until 1990, when he was appointed the governor of Nabatieh.
Minister of Labor, Minister of Social Affairs
A Greek Catholic born in Maghdousheh, Zahrani in 1949, Mr. Moussa is a cardiologist. He was elected as a Zahrani MP in 1992 and 1996. He is currently serving as a chairman of Parliament's Human Rights Committee. He is also a member of House Speaker Nabih Berri's parliamentary bloc.
Minister of Post and Telecommunications
A Druze born in Sidon in 1937, Mr. Naaman is a professor of Constitutional Law at the Lebanese University. He was elected to parliament as a Beirut MP in 1992 but lost his seat in the 1996 elections.
Minister of Justice
A Maronite born in Deir Al-Qamar, Shouf in 1932, Mr. Shawool was appointed judge in 1961 and has served as a president of the Shura Council since July 1990.
Minister of Oil, Minister of Electricity and Water Resources
A Catholic born in Mashghara, Western Bekaa in 1936, Mr. Traboulsi was appointed judge in 1964 rising to the rank of prosecutor general in 1996.
Minister of State for Administrative Reform
A Sunni born in Koura in 1934, Mr. Shalaq was elected as the head of the Civil Service Council in 1992 after having served there for 29 years. He was also a lecturer in Public Law at the Lebanese University.
Minister of Finance
A Maronite born in Alexandria in 1940, Mr. Qorom has worked as a consultant to the World Bank for a number of countries since 1985. He has also written many books on Lebanon and the Middle East.
Minister of Public Health
An Orthodox born in Khiam, Marjayoon in 1953, Mr. Karam currently heads the American University Hospital's department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. In 1968, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament representing the Marjayoon-Hasbayya area.
Minister of Economy and Trade, Minister of Industry
A Shiite born in 1950, Mr. Saiidi was appointed vice governor of Lebanon's Central Bank in 1993 and re-confirmed in the post earlier this year. He has taught in several US and British universities. He is also the author of various publications in economics.
Minister of Tourism, Minister of Environment
An Armenian born in Beirut in 1951, Mr. Nazarian is a newcomer to politics. He is an industrialist who owns several touristic companies in the Gulf.
Minister of Transportation, Minister of Public Works
A Sunni born in Tripoli in 1955, Mr. Meeqati was elected to the administrative board of the Beirut Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1992 and 1996.
President Emil Lahhoud said the new government constitutes a homogeneous team whose mission is to find solutions to the country's problems. Lahhoud also stressed there is no need to worry about investments in the country.
He added that his speech at the swearing in ceremony on November 24 included an address to the Arab and foreign countries encouraging their investment initiatives in Lebanon.
In this regard, Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss had received information saying representatives of Arab and foreign investment companies will arrive in Lebanon later this week to study investment opportunities in the country.
During its first session headed by President Emil Lahhoud and attended by Prime Minister-designate Salim Al-Hoss, the new cabinet charged a number of ministers to work on formulating the ministerial statement, which will be announced to parliament with the current target date of December 15.
The prime minister today headed a second meeting of the committee at the Grand Saray. During the session, ministers presented reports on the situation of their ministries, outlined their different problems and recommended solutions. Another committee meeting is expected to be held on Wednesday when the final touches will be laid on the ministerial statement before it will be presented to cabinet Friday.
Lebanon's new Minister of Finance, George Qorom, said he received a call from the World Bank saying that a delegation from the bank will arrive in Beirut during the end of next week to hold talks with government officials on a variety of levels.
Qorom added the bank's vice governor stressed the institution's commitment to support Lebanon. The phone call also tackled the issue of withdrawing the loans dedicated to Lebanon, which were not ratified by the former government.
US Health Minister Donna Shalala, who is of Lebanese descent, today continued her official visits in the country. The US official this morning met President Emil Lahhoud at Baabda. Shalala reported her country's strong support to the new president and his government.
Shalala told reporters after the meeting she will report to US President Bill Clinton what she described as a "promising government" that induces enthusiasm. The US Minister also reiterated her country's commitment to comprehensive peace in the region, stressing that the problem of South Lebanon can only be solved in the framework of a just and comprehensive peace formula in the Middle East.
Shalala later today met House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss. She was accompanied by the US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield.
During the weekend, visiting US Health Minister Donna Shalala toured various Lebanese areas. In Broummana, Shlala held talks with MP Issam Faris in the presence of House Speaker Berri and Prime Minister Hoss. Shalala later visited the cities of Akkar, Baalback and Zahle, the city of her grandfather.
In a statement to reporters, Shlala reiterated her country's trust in the Lebanese government stressing that Lebanon is a safe country. The US official added she toured the remote areas of the country in a bid to reiterate her country's ongoing support to the projects sponsored by the US government and implemented by a number of non-governmental organizations in Lebanon.
Shalala's visit would be the longest by a senior US politician since the early 1980s. Accompanied by her mother, Edna, the US Minister indicted that she is here on a goodwill mission rather than politics. Her official visit to the country brought her back to her roots.
Prime Minister-designate, Salim Al-Hoss today held a number of diplomatic meetings at the Grand Saray. The Egyptian Ambassador, Adel Al-Khodari, extended the Egyptian Premier and Foreign Minister's congratulations for Hoss on his new post. Al-Khodari later stressed his country's ongoing support to Lebanon on all levels.
Prime Minister Hoss later received the German Ambassador to Lebanon, Peter Wittig, who also reiterated cooperation will continue between Lebanon and Germany. The German Ambassador told reporters discussions centered on bilateral relations between Lebanon and the European Union in light of Germany's expected presidency over the union in January.
For his part, the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ahmad Al-Qohaimy said his country would always support Lebanon adding he congratulated Prime Minister Hoss on his new post and discussed with him Lebanon's ties with the kingdom.
Hoss also met today US Health Minister Donna Shlala who later said she held fruitful discussions with the new premier on the future of Lebanon's economy.
The premier earlier held talks with a delegation from Solidere that invited him to visit the company's headquarters and inspect the reconstruction projects in the downtown area.
Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, who is currently on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, today expressed comfort at statements made by Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz whereby he reiterated the kingdom's backing for Lebanon in all times.
Mufti Qabbani at noon met the Prince of Riyadh, Prince Salman Bin Abel Aziz in the presence of the Minister for Islamic Affairs, Abdullah Bin Abdel Mohsen Al-Turki and members in the accompanying Lebanese delegation.
During the meeting, Prince Salman expressed trust in the Lebanese people and their efforts at enforcing the principles of civil peace. He also stressed the brotherly relations between Lebanon and the kingdom. Prince Salman praised the nationalism of Lebanon's new President General Emil Lahhoud wishing him all success in his new mission.
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