Middle East

Lebanon names Tamam Salam as new prime minister

Tamam Salam waves to supporters in Beirut, 6 April
Tamam Salam, seen here waving to supporters in Beirut on Saturday, is a former minister of culture

Prominent Sunni politician Tamam Salam is been nominated to become Lebanon's next prime minister, ending a dangerous two-week power vacuum.

His nomination was announced by the president's office after he was backed by parties across the political spectrum, including Hezbollah.

The last government resigned amid tensions over upcoming elections.

Political tensions have been exacerbated by the continuing conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Syria has historically held great political influence in Lebanon, its much smaller neighbour.

Many Sunni Muslims sympathise with the Syrian rebels, while the militant Shia movement Hezbollah and its supporters back President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon's outgoing Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, struggled to contain sectarian tensions, violence and economic problems resulting from the conflict.

He resigned two weeks ago amid disagreements over how to regulated elections scheduled for June.

Uphill struggle

Mr Salam will now face the challenge of forming a cabinet with broad political support.

In his first speech he said his priority was to overcome Lebanon's political divisions, and prevent the Syria conflict from spilling over the border.

"There is a need to bring Lebanon out of its state of division and political fragmentation, as reflected on the security situation, and to ward off the risks brought by the tragic situation in the neighbouring [country]," he said.

Analysts suggest Mr Salam faces an uphill struggle.

There have been frequent clashes between pro- and anti-Assad militants in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

Hezbollah fighters are also widely alleged to be assisting the Assad regime on the Lebanese border.

Lebanese politics also remains wracked with political divisions that have led to the frequent collapse of the government.

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