Druze militia chief Walid Jumblatt resigned his post as minister-without-portfolio today, dealing a blow to the half-Muslim, half-Christian government formed to steer Lebanon out of civil war.
The sudden resignation means the 30-seat Cabinet now lacks two of the three major militia leaders Prime Minister Omar Karami had sought to attract to the national reconciliation government he formed Dec. 24.
Christian chieftain Samir Geagea, who heads the Lebanese Forces, a rightist militia, has refused to take up his post as minister-without-portfolio.
Christian leaders have charged that the new government tilts overwhelmingly toward Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon. Nabih Berri, leader of the mainstream Shiite Muslim Amal militia, was also named minister-without-portfolio in the government.
Jumblatt, 43, announcing his resignation, said, “For personal reasons I shall stay away from the political arena for the time being.” He did not elaborate.