General elections were held in Lebanon in May 2018. Why did it take until January 31st, 2019 to finally assemble a government?
One of the major reasons for the delay was Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s demand to appoint an additional independent Sunni minister to the government. Nasrallah said that as long Hezbollah’s conditions were not met, the assembling of a government could wait “until judgment day.”
Hezbollah is a Shi’ite Lebanese organization established in Lebanon in the beginning of the 1980s by the Iranian Quds Force, an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. So, the obvious question is, why would Hezbollah want to appoint an additional Sunni minister?
The Lebanese government has 30 ministers, and the ministerial positions are allocated according to a system of quotas. In a bid to further weaken the major Sunni political party Al-Mustaqbal (The Future) led by the Acting Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Nasrallah’s strategy was to implant an independent Sunni minister who would ally himself with the 10 ministers of Hezbollah’s political ally, the predominantly Christian Free Patriotic Movement, led by Lebanese President Michel Aoun. An extra minister would give Aoun 11 ministers, equaling more than one-third of the government and providing his party automatic veto power over the government’s decisions.