Six key figures leading the country’s parliamentary process
Biography Michel Suleiman is the president of Lebanon. Prior to being sworn into office in May 2008, he served as commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), mirroring the career path taken by his predecessor Emile Lahoud. Born in 1948 in the town of Amsheet, Suleiman joined the LAF in 1967, graduating as an officer from the Military Academy in 1970. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and administrative sciences from the Lebanese University. Suleiman is regarded by the country’s rival political factions as a relatively neutral figure. He refused to let the army crush the anti-Syrian protests that gripped Beirut during the spring of 2005, helping to force the Syrian military out of Lebanon. In 2007, he rose to national prominence as the LAF defeated Al-Qaeda-inspired militants in a Palestinian refugee camp in the north of the country. Suleiman is a Maronite Christian.
Position Prime Minister
Biography Najib Mikati became prime minister in June 2011. The billionaire had previously held the post for a three-month spell in 2005, resigning after his efforts to form a consensus government failed. Mikati graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1980 with a master’s degree in business administration. He is the co-founder of the M1 Group, a family-owned holding with assets in sectors such as telecom, real estate, aircraft financing, fashion and energy. He made billions of dollars by selling Investcom, the telecoms company he had founded with his brother in 1982, to the MTN group. Mikati started his political career as minister of public works and transport in 1998. Two years later, he was elected to the National Assembly. As a parliamentarian, he is seen as moderately pro-Syrian. Before starting his second term as prime minister, he was re-elected to parliament representing Tripoli in 2009.
Position Finance Minister
Biography Mohammed Safadi was appointed finance minister in June 2011, having previously held various ministerial posts. Born in Tripoli in 1944, he is graduate of the American University of Beirut, where he studied business administration. A successful businessman, Safadi is chairman of the Safadi Group Holding, which holds assets in real estate, aviation and airports. He was elected to parliament in 2000. Between 2005-08, Safadi served as minister of public works and transport. He later worked as minister of power and water, after which he became minister of economy and trade. Safadi is honorary president of the charitable Safadi Foundation Tripoli. He is also a member of the John F Kennedy School of Government Dean’s Council at the US’ Harvard University and serves on the board of several American educational institutions in Lebanon.
Position Speaker of the parliament
Biography Nabih Berri is the speaker of the parliament and has led the Amal Movement, the most significant Shia political organisation in Lebanon after Hezbollah, since 1980. Born in Sierra Leone, he studied law at the Lebanese University in Beirut and became a lawyer at the Court of Appeals after graduating in 1963. Berri joined the Arab Nationalist Movement in the 1960s. He worked for US carmaker General Motors in the early 1970s and had a stint at their American operations in Detroit from 1976 to 1978. In 1984, he was appointed minister of state for the rebuilding of South Lebanon. He went on to serve as minister of electrical and hydraulic resources, and later as minister of housing and co-operatives, as well as and minister of state. Berri was elected speaker of the National Assembly in November 1992, a position he has held to this day.
Position Leader of the Free Patriotic Movement Party
Biography Michel Aoun leads Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement, one of the main political parties that is part of the coalition government. He was prime minister of one of the two governments that fought for power in the Lebanese civil war of 1988. In 1955, he joined the army as a cadet, rose through the ranks and became commander-in-chief in 1984 after performing with distinction in the war with Syria. When Syria invaded Lebanon, Aoun was forced to flee to France in 1991. He returned when Syrian forces left the country in 2005, becoming the head of the Free Patriotic Movement. In the 2005 elections, the bloc came fourth. The movement is the now second biggest party in Lebanon’s parliament. In January 2011, the Saad Hariri government was toppled by the resignation of the Free Patriotic Movement ministers. In the new government, Aoun’s bloc got 12 ministries.
Position Leader of the Movement of the Future
Biography Saad Hariri was Lebanon’s prime minister from 2009 until the collapse of his government in 2011. A Saudi-Lebanese billionaire, Hariri was born in 1970. He is the son of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who was assassinated in 2005. Hariri graduated from Georgetown University in the US with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 1992. Hariri worked in Saudi Arabia for construction company Saudi Oger as general manager, and as managing director from 1994 to 1998. He also served as chairman of Omnia Holding. Hariri inherited a fortune of more than $4bn from his father and left Saudi Arabia for Lebanon to succeed him as the head of the Movement of the Future, a Sunni political organisation. He is also the leader of the March 14 Alliance, a coalition of political groups that oppose the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance.