US calls on Lebanese to follow through on agreement
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on the Lebanese leadership to follow through on the agreement reached Wednesday to end the political crisis that brought the country to the brink of civil war, dpa reported.
"We view this agreement as a positive step towards resolving the current crisis," Rice said in a statement.
Lebanese factions wrapped up an agreement after days of negotiations under the guidance of the Qatari government in Doha that includes election of a new president within the coming days.
Lebanon has been without an executive since pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud left office when his term expired in November, producing a political stalemate over choosing a successor.
Under the agreement, a new president will soon be elected by parliament, a new cabinet will be named and the rival factions promised to revise Lebanon's electoral laws help prevent future deadlocks.
The Lebanese parliament was unable to elect a new president over disagreement over powersharing in the cabinet between the majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition.
The agreement calls for 16 cabinet posts for the majority and 11 for the minority, effectively handing Hezbollah the veto authority it had originally sought. Another three posts will be appointed by the new president.
The outcome was seen as a victory for Hezbollah, whose gunmen took to the streets earlier this month after the government banned a telecommunications network operated by the Shiite militants. Fighting between Hezbollah and rival factions left dozens dead and prompted fears of a full blown civil war.
The United States blamed the feud on Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian backers, and lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Syria praised Wednesday's agreement.
US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch cautioned against drawing conclusions the deal was a victory for Hezbollah, saying the violent uprising that cut off sections of Beirut did not go over well with the Lebanese people.
"The reaction to it has been extremely negative from most Lebanese and certainly throughout the region," Welch said.