FACTBOX: Next steps in Lebanon’s political process

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, May 21, 2008
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(Reuters) – Rival Lebanese leaders reached a deal in Qatar on Wednesday ending a political crisis that had pushed their country to the brink of a new civil war.

Following is a step by step guide to what happens next:

- The Hezbollah-led opposition is due to remove a protest encampment that has paralyzed Beirut’s central commercial district since December, 2006. The tent city had been erected as part of a campaign to demand effective veto power in cabinet.

- Lawmakers will convene in parliament to elect army commander General Michel Suleiman as president. His nomination to the post, which has been empty since November, has long been accepted by both the ruling coalition and the opposition. A deal between the sides was required to secure a quorum of MPs for his election.

- Suleiman consults parliament on choosing a new prime minister, who must be a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system. The president must appoint whoever is nominated by the majority of MPs. Majority leader Saad al-Hariri is an early frontrunner for the post.

- The nominated prime minister holds consultations with parliament on his cabinet line-up and must gain the president’s consent.

- The new cabinet draws up a policy statement within days of taking office. The government reads it to parliament ahead of a confidence vote.

- According to the Arab League-brokered deal that paved the way to the Qatar talks, after his election and the formation of the national unity government Suleiman will chair talks on strengthening state authority and the state’s relationship with other “organizations” in the country — a reference to Hezbollah.

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