Lebanon Names Salam as Premier to End 11-Month Power Vacuum

Tammam Salam, a U.K.-educated businessman and son of the late Lebanese Premier Saeb Salam, was appointed the country’s prime minister, ending 11 months of political disagreement that blocked the formation of a cabinet.

Salam, 68, named Ali Hassan Khalil as finance minister, while Arthur Nazarian was given the energy portfolio, cabinet Secretary General Suhail Bouji said in an announcement broadcast today on Future TV. Salam’s appointment followed an endorsement by lawmakers including the anti-Syrian March 14 and their Hezbollah-led rival, the March 8 bloc, a month after former Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s resignation last year.

“We have liberated all cabinet portfolios of sectarian and confessional representation,” said Salam in a speech after his appointment. Religious and political affiliations have played a role in previous governments.

Mikati, a Hezbollah-backed billionaire, dissolved his two-year-old administration on March 23 amid disagreements between the March 14 and March 8 blocs over the rules that should govern last year’s parliamentary elections and the reappointment of a security chief. Rifts deepened by the crisis in neighboring Syria prevented the formation of a new government.

Lebanon last month delayed its first auction of licenses for offshore oil and natural-gas exploration until April 10, stalling bids for a third time amid the political differences. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA are among the companies prequalified to bid.

The country plans to issue Eurobonds to replace debt maturing this year, the Lebanese central bank said Feb. 13.

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