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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora