Riad Salameh, as governor of the central bank since 1993, has given some stability to the country’s financial system. He is credited with successfully steering the country through the political and economic crisis in recent years. He has been commended for
creating an environment that has enabled Lebanon’s banks to expand abroad in the face of the $2.5bn capital flight following the 34-day war with Israel in the summer of 2006. He is helping the government to implement reforms reached in early 2007 to rebuild the economy. Salameh’s influence over the country will become even greater if he succeeds in his political ambitions to become president. Although not constitutionally eligible for the role, he says if rival factions in the government agree on his appointment, he will take up the post. He has longstanding political ties, having once been private banker to assassinated former prime minister Rafik Hariri.