Hezbollah political activities
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Along with the Amal Movement, Hezbollah is one of the two main parties representing the Shia community, Lebanon's largest religious bloc. Amal has made a commitment to carrying out its activities through political means, but remains a partial fighting force aiding Hezbollah when the need arises.
Hezbollah has been a part of the government since November 2005.
Hezbollah participates in the Parliament of Lebanon. In 1992, it participated in Lebanese elections for the first time, winning 12 out of 128 seats in parliament. In 1996, the organization won 10 seats, and in 2000 they took 8. In the Lebanese general election of 2005, it won 14 seats nationwide (of 128 total), and an Amal-Hezbollah alliance won all 23 seats in Southern Lebanon. The bloc it forms with others, the Resistance and Development Bloc, took 27.3% of the seats. Also,when municipal elections were held in 1998 this party won control of about 15 percent of contested municipalities. With a proven track record by the second round of elections, in spring 2004, the party won control of 21 percent of the municipalities.
Hezbollah's political success is regarded as a model for other Islamic parties in the Middle East like Hamas and United Iraqi Alliance; its actions are thought to provide strong clues as to how these other emerging Islamist forces might behave.
Hezbollah and Siniora government
Role in government
Hezbollah is a minority partner in the Siniora Cabinet, holding two (and endorsing a third) cabinet positions in the Lebanese government of July 2005. The two official Hizbullah ministers are Muhammad Fneish and Trad Hamadeh.
Muhammad Fneish was appointed Energy and Water Minister in the cabinet and has been quoted as saying "We are a political force that took part in the polls under the banner of defending the resistance and protecting Lebanon and got among the highest level of popular backing ... Hezbollah’s resistance (against Israel) does not in any way contradict its political role. If joining the government and parliament is a national duty, then so is defending the country.” Although Hezbollah joined the new government in 2005 (reportedly in exchange for assurances regarding its military apparatus), it has remained staunchly opposed to the March 14 coalition's hegemonic ambitions.
On the other hand in resisting the 14 March coalition's bid for hegemony, the FPM and Hezbollah have allied. In February 2006, after weeks of committee-level negotiations, Michel Aoun and Hassan Nasrallah signed a memorandum of understanding that called for a broad range of reforms, from guaranteeing equal media access for candidates to allowing expatriate voting, that would level the slanted political playing field underlying the Hariri-Jumblatt coalition's grip on power. The FPM-Hezbollah memorandum met with virtually unanimous assent in the Shiite community and, according to poll by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, 77% approval in the Christian community.
According to "Memorandum of Understanding"
"Reforming and organizing Lebanese political life require the adoption of a modern electoral law (of which proportional representation may be an effective form) that guarantees the accuracy and fairness of popular representation."
On November 13, 2006, two weeks before the Lebanese protest began, as a result of the failed prolonged national dialogue, five Cabinet Ministers of Hezbollah and Amal quit their positions. A Christian Cabinet Minister from the Free Patriotic Movement was the sixth member to leave his position within twenty-four hours.
Anti-government protest and sit-in
On December 1, 2006, a day after Hassan Nasrallah in a televised address had called on people from "different regions, thoughts, beliefs, religions, ideologies and different traditions" to take part "for the formation of a National Unity government", because they "want to preserve Lebanon's independence and its sovereignty, prevent Lebanon from falling under any foreign tutelage, to strengthen the foundations of security, stability and civil peace, to cooperate in addressing the suffocating social and economic crisis, to address the political crises through true representation of all Lebanese movements and groups, to give real participation in the country's administration and to deal with various crises and face various existing challenges local, regional and international", hundreds of thousands of demonstrators amassed peacefully in downtown Beirut. Police estimated the crowd to number approximately 800,000, while Hezbollah claimed it was larger. By nighttime, several thousand protestors remained to begin a sit-in, setting up tents and vowing to not leave until Prime Minister Fouad Siniora resigns.
Lebanese government positions on Hezbollah's disarmament
After approval of the U.N. Resolution 1559 that requires Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to disband and disarm, Lebanese prime minister, Najib Mikati, declared on May 7, 2005 that "Our terminology -- Hezbollah -- is not a militia. It's a resistance." On August 5, 2006 the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, said that "the continued presence of Israeli occupation of Lebanese lands in the Shebaa Farms region is what contributes to the presence of Hezbollah weapons. The international community must help us in (getting) an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa Farms so we can solve the problem of Hezbollah's arms".
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