Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

New Premier Is Appointed in Lebanon

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

New Premier Is Appointed in Lebanon

Article excerpt

Tammam Salam is the scion of a prominent political family and received a string of endorsements from the country's warring factions.

Tammam Salam, scion of a prominent political family in Lebanon, has been officially named the country's new prime minister after receiving a string of endorsements from warring factions over the past few days.

Mr. Salam, 68, was named to the post on Saturday by the Lebanese president after winning 124 of the 128 votes in Parliament. A Sunni whose father, Saeb Salam, served six times as prime minister, from 1952 and 1973, Mr. Salam will head a new government that many hope will overcome a dangerous political stalemate that last month led to the resignation of his predecessor.

Lebanon's government is based on a delicate sectarian system, in place since the end of the civil war in 1990, that is meant to balance power among the multiple sects. The formula requires that the president be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the Parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim.

Eager to present himself as an independent, Mr. Salam emphasized at a news conference on Saturday that he would not bow to pressure from any group and intended to establish a national unity government.

A political impasse last month led to the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, leaving a power vacuum in a country already in a state of heightened tension over the war in Syria, which has spilled into northern Lebanon and has left the country struggling to absorb a wave of refugees.

The Syrian conflict also plays into Lebanon's sectarian divide. The Lebanese Shiite Muslim party Hezbollah supports the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, while Sunni rivals back the Sunni-led Syrian insurgency.

Mr. Mikati announced his resignation on March 22 after Parliament failed to agree on rules to govern parliamentary elections set for later this year. …

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