BEIRUT, DEC. 24 -- Prime Minister Omar Karami named a 30-man cabinet of pro-Syrian politicians and warlords today in an effort to end Lebanon's 15-year civil war, but key right-wing Christian leaders made clear immediately that they would not accept the appointments.
The half-Christian, half-Moslem cabinet includes seven militia chieftains as state ministers without portfolio -- an apparent effort to gain their approval for a plan to disarm and disband all private armies in Lebanon. Among them is Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, whose Progressive Socialist Party fielded the strongest non-Christian militia in the bloody civil war, and his Maronite Christian arch foe, Samir Geagea.
But a statement from Geagea's Lebanese Forces, the main Christian militia, said he has refused his cabinet post because he considers the new government heavily tilted toward Syrian-backed leftists. George Saadeh, also a Maronite and head of the Phalange Party -- the nation's largest right-wing political force -- rejected a cabinet appointment on the same grounds, a Phalangist statement said.
Jumblatt accepted his appointment, apparently under Syrian pressure, despite earlier having accused President Elias Hrawi of corruption and favoritism. The post of foreign minister in the new cabinet went to Hrwai's son-in-law, Fares Bweiz. Other factional leaders included in the cabinet were Nabih Berri, head of Amal, the mainstream Shiite Moslem militia; Elie Hobeika, a Maronite who heads a breakaway faction of Geagea's militia; and Assaad Hardan, of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
It was the first time that the Nationalist Party -- a leftist faction allied with Syria -- has been brought into a Lebanese government since Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943. The group advocates the merger of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, pre-Israeli Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait and Cyprus into a greater Syria.
Geagea's heavily armed, 6,000-member Lebanese Forces pulled out of Beirut's Christian districts last month to allow Hrawi's government to unite the capital and its environs in a militia-free "greater Beirut." But Geagea's men are entrenched in Kesrouan and Byblos provinces, which comprise about 75 percent of Lebanon's Christian hinterland.
The fundamentalist Shiite group Hezbollah, Iran's main ally in Lebanon, was excluded from the cabinet. The group, which controls one of Lebanon's three strongest militias, has rejected the new government.