Lebanon has announced a new government, five months after Hezbollah and its supporters toppled the Western-backed coalition of Saad al-Hariri.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati has appointed a number of allies of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah to key posts, a move likely to cause concern in the West.
In all, Shi’ite Hezbollah and its Christian and Druze allies have secured 18 posts out of a cabinet of 30, up from 11 last time round.
The announcement came out of the blue after months of political wrangling.
One Lebanese resident told reporters “I was as surprised as everyone else because we expected not to have a government at all and to have the constant obstacles and the Arab Spring that we are witnessing now, I don’t know. I don’t know I hope they agree not just on the government but all other issues as well.”
But reflecting the belief of many that little will change for ordinary people, another said “These cabinets come and go without achieving anything we have stalled laws that should have been passed to help the Lebanese people.”
The new government now faces a ratification vote in parliament before getting down to business.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting a popular revolt against his rule, called Mikati to congratulate him. Syria is a strong backer of Hezbollah.