News / Middle East

Lebanon's Salam Emerges as Likely New Premier

Tammam Salam attends a meeting for pro-Western March 14 political coalition in Beirut, Apr. 4, 2013.
Tammam Salam attends a meeting for pro-Western March 14 political coalition in Beirut, Apr. 4, 2013.
Reuters
Lebanese politician Tammam Salam, a former minister from a prominent Sunni Muslim political dynasty, emerged as a potential new prime minister on Thursday when he was endorsed by the country's pro-Western March 14 coalition.
    
Lebanon faces a parliamentary election in June but was plunged into uncertainty two weeks ago by the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, after a dispute over the electoral law and an extension to the term of a top security official.
    
Mikati, who had called for a “national salvation” government to ensure stability in a country shaken by the conflict in neighboring Syria, said on Thursday he would not put his name forward again because he could not win consensus backing.

Salam - a Sunni Muslim as all prime ministers must be under Lebanon's confessional distribution of power - is the son of a former prime minister. His grandfather served under the Ottoman Empire and the French colonial mandate.

He won endorsement from March 14, which has 60 seats in the 128-seat parliament, at a meeting of the political alliance in central Beirut after a lightning trip to Saudi Arabia for talks with March 14's leader, former prime minister Saad al-Hariri.

March 14 groups mainly Sunni and Christian parties which pushed, with U.S. and European support, for Syria to end nearly three decades of military presence in Lebanon in 2005.

Salam was also expected to win the support of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, whose seven seats hold the balance of power.

The other main political bloc is the March 8 coalition which dominated Mikati's government and is made up of Shi'ite parties Hezbollah and Amal and their mainly Christian allies, including the Free Patriotic Movement of Michel Aoun.

Sources in March 8 said it had not decided whether to support Salam, but that on its own it could not block him.

President Michel Suleiman will hold formal consultations on Friday and Saturday before nominating a prime minister to form the new government.

Political sources said that if Salam is nominated he would head a neutral government tasked with preparing for the election and would not be expected to stand as candidate himself.
    
The vote, set for early June, is likely to be delayed after disputes over whether it should be a winner-takes-all election or follow proportional representation - or be a hybrid of both.

The disputes add to tension in a country struggling to deal with over 400,000 Syrian refugees - equivalent to 10 percent of the population - street battles in the northern city of Tripoli, violence in border areas and a spiraling budget deficit.

Mikati championed a policy of "dissociation'' from the crisis in Syria but struggled to insulate his country from the turmoil. Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies in his cabinet are strong supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while most Sunni Muslims support rebels battling to topple Assad.

Born in 1945, Salam was culture minister from 2008 to 2009.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid