Fouad Siniora is the Prime Minister of Lebanon, a position he assumed on 19.Juli 2005 succeeding Najib Mikati.

Born into a Sunni Muslim family in Sidon in 1943, Siniora was a friend of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri for more than 45 years. A business graduate of the American University of Beirut, Siniora was Minister of Finance for most of the post-war period in Lebanon. After working for Citibank and teaching at his alma mater in Beirut in the 1970’s, Siniora worked for the Central Bank’s audit committee before being employed by Hariri in 1982 in his rapidly growing business “empire.” He held various positions in Hariri’s business enterprises.

Fouad Siniora has strong ties with international finance. Strongly pro-business, he is considered a partisan of Free Trade. He was a close adviser to late Rafik Hariri and he is very close to his son Saad Hariri. He served as finance minister from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 to2004. Siniora was the main designer of the Paris II conference in November 2002 which allowed Lebanon to get US$2.6 billion.

He was accused of corruption and mismanagement after Hariri’s ousting in 1998, in what was mainly viewed as a conflict between Hariri and President Emile Lahoud. Siniora was cleared of all charges in 2003 by the parliament. In 2002, he abolished most of Lebanon’s duty taxes and introduced a Value Added Tax. It was under his rule that Lebanon’s public debt exploded, although his responsibility for that is disputed.

After the victory of the anti-Syyrian opposition in parlamentary elections held in May and June 2005, Fouad Siniora was asked by President Lahoud on June 30th to form a government. He resigned from the chairmanship of Group Mediterranee (a banking holding controlled by the Hariri family). After laborious negotiations with the President and the different political forces, Siniora formed a government on July 19, 2005.

It is the first government formed after the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the first government to include members of Hezbullah. With regards to Hezbollah, Siniora has said that “The government considers the resistance a natural and honest expression of the Lebanese people’s national rights to liberate their land and defend their honour against Israeli aggression and threats”. Apart from General Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, all mainstream political currents are represented.

In April, 2006, Siniora and leading officials paid a high profile visit to Washington, DC, and met with President George W. Bush and a number of cabinet members of the Bush Administration. His public pronouncements have been relatively mute with regard to Syria’s alleged involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic al-Hariri in 2005.

Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006

Siniora was quoted on July 20, 2006 in the Milan-based daily “Corriere della Sera” calling for the disarmament of Hezbullah. “It’s not a mystery that Hezbollah answers to the political agendas of Tehran and Damascus,” Siniora said to the Corriere. “The entire world must help us disarm Hezbollah. But first we need to reach a cease-fire.” Siniora later denied the interview, but “Corriere della Sera” stands by its report. “The interview was recorded,” a senior staff member said.

“The important thing now is to restore full Lebanese sovereignty in the south, dismantling any armed militia parallel to the national army,” Siniora said furthermore. “The Syrians are inside our home and we are still too weak to defend ourselves. The terrible memories of the civil war are still too alive and no one is ready to take up arms.”

However, following the Israeli bombing of Qana on July 30, Siniora expressed a more conciliatory position towards the organization. “We are in a strong position and I thank the Sayyed Nasrallah for his efforts”, he stated.

Courtesy of WIKIPEDIA!


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