Mohamad Chatah advised two former Lebanese prime ministers, Fouad Siniora and Saad al-Hariri, and also served as finance minister. He was a government spokesman during the country’s war with Israel in 2006, and spent several years in America as Lebanon’s ambassador to the US and working for the IMF.
The 62 year-old was not a particularly controversial figure in the country and was known as a moderate.
He had no particular power base of his own, but his international experience was valued in government circles.
Chatah has been described by Lebanon’s current Prime Minister Najib Mikati as a “noble political figure who believed in dialogue, the language of reason and the right to different views”.
His work in government put him into contact with Hezbollah, though he was a vocal critic of it. A message on his Twitter account less than an hour before the blast accused the group of trying to take control of the country.
The Shi’ite movement is now suspected by some of being behind his killing, although Hezbollah parliamentarian Ali Ammar described the explosion as a crime.
“We condemn this terrorist act,” he told Hezbollah’s Al Manar television. “It is part of a terrorist wave which the region and Lebanon are witnessing.”