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Photo: Reuters
Tamam Salam
Photo: Reuters
New prime minister chosen in Lebanon
As political stalemate plauges Lebenese politcs, the regions firstmost political victim of Syiran conflict spillage; president, nation hope new Sunni PM will save situation

Following two days of consultations, Lebanon's president Michel Suleiman formally asked legislator and former Minister of Culture Tamam Salam to form the new Cabinet after 124 of the 128-member parliament chose him for the job.

 

Salam, a Sunni, was appointed two weeks after the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, whose two years in office were dominated by efforts to contain sectarian tensions, violence and economic fallout from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

 

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His immediate task, if he is able to form a cabinet accepted by Lebanon's rival political forces, will be to prepare for a parliamentary election which is due in June but faces likely delay. No agreement has been reached yet on an electoral system under which the vote will take place.

 

Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned after failing to resolve the stalemate regarding Lebanon's new election law governing the electoral system and after parliament refused to abide his request to renew the term of the serving police commander.

 

Mikati's resignation came at a time of rising sectarian tensions and violence in Lebanon which many ascribe to the ongoing civil war in Lebanon's influence bearing neighbor – Syria.

 

Syria and Lebanon share a common history, mixture of ethnicities and political tensions; and during the last year a number of battles have broken out in Lebanon between armed anti-Assad Sunnis and pro-Assad Alawites.

 

Mikati expressed hope that his departure from the political arena will force Lebanese leaders to take responsibility.

 

"There is no way to be loyal to Lebanon and protect it besides actively engaging dialogue paving the way for the formation of new government which will successfully represent all of the political forces in Lebanon" Mikati said in a live televised speech.

 

Salam, born in 1945 into a prominent Sunni political dynasty, served as culture minister between 2008 and 2009.

 

He is close to the Saudi- and Western-backed March 14 coalition but was seen as a consensus candidate and also won the backing of the March 8 bloc, which includes the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah group.

 

However, a source in the March 8 group said that despite the broad support for Salam's nomination, he might face a lengthy struggle to form a government. His predecessor, Mikati, took five months assemble his ministerial team.

  

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

 

 

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