BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam Saturday announced his government of “national interest.”
The March 8 and March 14 coalitions have each been allotted eight seats in the government with the remaining ministerial posts divided among Salam, President Michel Sleiman and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt.
Below is a brief profile of the members of the new government.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam, 68, a Sunni from Beirut, comes from a prominent political family and is the son of the late Saeb Salam, a former Lebanese prime minister. He graduated with a degree in economics and management from the U.K. and in 1982 took over as head of the Makassed Philanthropic Islamic Association of Beirut. He was elected MP for Beirut twice, in 1996 and 2009 respectively, and served as culture minister in Fouad Siniora’s 2008-09 cabinet.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, 74, a Greek Orthodox from Beirut, is a contractor and engineer. He was Lebanon’s first environment minister in Rafik Hariri’s 1992-95 Cabinet. He was deputy prime minister in Mikati’s 2011-14 government.
Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, 41, a Druze from Rashaya, is a Progressive Socialist Party member. His work in the PSP started soon after graduating from the American University of Beirut with a degree in business management. He served as state minister in Fouad Siniora’s 2008-09 government and then in Saad Hariri’s 2009-11 Cabinet. Abu Faour served as social affairs minister in Najib Mikati’s 2011-14 Cabinet.
Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb, 67, a Druze from Aley, is an MP and member of the Progressive Socialist Party. He headed the PSP’s office in Damascus from 1985 to 1991. After returning to Lebanon he ran in the 1991 parliamentary elections and won a seat for Aley. He was re-elected for the seat in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2009. He served as environment minister in Rafik Hariri’s 1996-98 Cabinet.
Environment Minister Mohammad Mashnouq, 72, a Sunni from Beirut, is a Lebanese writer. He has authored a corpus of studies and instructional books. He headed Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency between 1973 and 1979. He is the founder of several educational associations and organizations that deal with social welfare, culture, heritage and the environment including Beirut’s Cultural Council.
Minister of the Displaced Alice Shabtini, 67, a Maronite from Jbeil, is the head of the Military Court of Cassation. She has been a judge for 41 years specializing in international labor law. She is also a professor of labor law.
Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas, 73, a Sunni from Tripoli, is a lawyer and independent political figure. Derbas is the former chairman of the Lawyers’ Syndicate in Tripoli. He ran in the 1972 parliamentary elections.
Youth and Sports Minister Abdul-Muttaleb Al-Hinawi, 61, a Shiite from south Lebanon, is a retired brigadier general. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1975 and held several Army posts including the head of the Office of Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi. He is also a military adviser to President Michel Sleiman.
Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnouq, 58, a Sunni from Beirut, is a prominent figure in the Future Movement. He was elected into Parliament in 2009. A member of "Lebanon first" parliamentary alliance, Mashnouq also serves on the committees of Human Rights and Foreign Affairs. He began his career as a journalist and political writer in several local newspapers and was also former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s senior adviser.
Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb, 70, a Maronite from Tannourine, is a lawyer and an independent Christian political figure in the March 14 coalition. He won the parliamentary seat for Batroun in 1972 and was re-elected for the same seat in 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2009. Harb held three portfolios – public transport, labor and education – in Salim Hoss’ 1979-80 Cabinet, was education minister in Omar Karami’s 1990-92 Cabinet and labor minister in Saad Hariri’s 2009-11 government.
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, 61, a Maronite from Kesrouan, is a veteran Kataeb Party member. After majoring in political science, Azzi launched a career in journalism in the 1970’s before entering politics. As a Kataeb member, he handled the party’s secret negotiations with Yasser Arafat and other PLO officials during Lebanon’s 1975-90 Civil War. He currently holds the post of deputy Kataeb Party leader.
Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon, 53, a Greek Catholic from Beirut, is a lawmaker and prominent businessman. He was elected member of Parliament in 1996, 2000, 2005, and 2009. He also served as state minister in the cabinets of Rafik Hariri (2000 to 2003) and Fouad Siniora (2005 to 2008).
Information Minister Ramzi Joreige, 74, a Greek Orthodox from Beirut, was former head of Beirut’s Bar Association. He has a degree in French law and a degree in Lebanese law from St. Joseph University. He also obtained a Graduate Certificate in Public Law from St. Joseph University. Has published several law-related articles and given lectures at international conferences.
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, 59, Sunni from Tripoli, is Lebanon’s former police chief. He studied criminology at the Lebanese University and was promoted to the rank of Major General in 2005 when he was named head of the Internal Security Forces. Rifi retired as police chief in 2013. He is a member of the managing board of Prince Nayef Program for Intellectual Security Studies.
Economy Minister Alain Hakim, 52, a Catholic from Beirut, has worked in the banking sector since 1989 and is currently assistant general manager at Credit Libanais. Holding a doctorate in management, Hakim is a professor at Universite Saint Joseph and also lectures for the Association of Banks in Lebanon.
Minister of State Nabil De Freij, 59, a Protestant from Beirut, is a member of the Future parliamentary bloc. He is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale De Commerce in Paris. He was elected Beirut MP in the years 2000, 2005 and 2009. He is the president of the Beirut horse racing track and a founding member of the local dairy company, Candia. He is the liaison officer at the Francophone Parliament.
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, 46, a Maronite from Batroun, is a member of the Free Patriotic Movement. Bassil holds a master's degree in civil engineering from the American University of Beirut. He also owns a real estate company. Bassil served as telecoms minister in both Fouad Siniora’s 2008-09 government and Saad Hariri's 2009-11 Cabinets and as energy minister in the most recent government. He is the head of the FPM’s political relations committee.
Minister of State Mohammad Fneish, 61, a Shiite MP from Tyre, is a lawmaker in Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc. He won in the parliamentary elections of 1992, 1996 and 2000. He served as energy minister in Fouad Siniora’s 2005-08 Cabinet; labor minister in Siniora’s 2008-09 Cabinet, and twice as state minister – once in Saad Hariri’s 2009-11 Cabinet and then in Najib Mikati’s 2011-14 Cabinet.
Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan, 54, a Shiite from the Baalbek-Hermel region, is a member of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc. He holds a PhD in molecular biophysical chemistry, which he received from the University of Orléans, France, in 1987. He ran on Hezbollah’s list in 1996 and was elected MP of the Baalbek-Hermel constituency. He was re-elected in the 2000, 2005 and 2009 polls. He served twice as agriculture minister, first in Saad Hariri's 2009-11 Cabinet and then in Najib Mikati’s 2011-14 Cabinet.
Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, 49, Shiite from Marjayoun-Hasbaya region, is a member of the Amal Movement. He was elected Hasbaya-Marjayoun MP four times successively in 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2009. He served as agriculture minister in Rafik Hariri’s 2003-04 and health minister in Najib Mikati’s 2011-14 government.
Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Zeaiter, 65, a Shiite from the Baalbek-Hermel region, is a member in Nabih Berri’s Liberation and Development bloc. He has a law degree from the Beirut Arab University. Zeaiter was first elected MP of the Baalbek-Hermel district in 1992 and was re-elected for the same seat in the years 2000, 2005 and 2009. He served as defense minister under Salim Hoss’ government from 1998 to 2000 and as social affairs minister under Omar Karami’s 2004-05 Cabinet.
Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, 63, Armenian Orthodox from Beirut, is a lawmaker and businessman. A member of the Tashnag Party, he won unopposed in the 2009 parliamentary elections. He is a member of the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
Culture Minister Remon Areiji, a Maronite from Zghorta, is a founding member of the Marada Movement. A lawyer with a degree in mathematics, Areiji is a member of the Beirut Bar Association and served as Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh's consultant. He is currently a member of the party's politburo and its foreign relations coordinator.
Education Minister Elias Abu Saab, 46, a Maronite, is a former mayor of Dhour Choueir. He is the owner of Sawt al-Mada Radio Station and the husband of prominent Lebanese singer Julia Butros. Abu Saab is also the head of the American University of Dubai which was founded in 1995. He also cofounded the Emirati Lebanese Friendship Association and is a former member of the board directors for the Directors of the Young Arab Leaders.