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Lebanon's Hariri Makes 2nd Attempt at Forming Unity Government


Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Thursday launched talks with the country's various political parties in his second bid to form a coalition government since a June election.

Hariri, who met with parliament speaker and opposition Amal party leader Nabih Berri, was reappointed as prime minister last week, days after resigning. He left his post after more than 10 weeks of fruitless attempts to form a coalition government.

Visiting Hudson Institute fellow Lee Smith says that Hariri's decision to return was expected.

"He would come back and have more power to form a government. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen, but that was the idea behind his resignation," Smith said.

The 39-year-old Hariri came to power after parliamentary elections in June. His coalition won 71 of 128 parliament seats, while Hezbollah and its allies took 57.

A month later a Lebanese power-sharing system was formed to divide power under religious lines. The president would have to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the Parliament speaker a Shi'ite.

Hezbollah-led opposition to his cabinet choices kept him from forming a government and led to his resignation on September 7.

Smith says it is not known whether or not Hariri's second attempt will be more successful. But, regardless, he still faces the same challenges.

"I think it's not going to change the situation fundamentally at all; you still have the problem of an armed group, mainly Hezbollah, that runs a separate foreign policy and that has carefully built a state within a state for the last thirty years now. So the fundamental issues are not going to go away," Smith said.

These are the fundamental issues that Hariri will have to face again in a series of talks scheduled until next Tuesday with various other parties including militant group Hezbollah.

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