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Israeli Minister Says 'Lebanon Equals Hizbullah' after Election

10 May, 2018, 14:14 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Open SocietyGay and women's rights are remarkably a part of Lebanon's elections

The voting was held under a new proportional system, which divides the country into 15 separate electoral constituencies.

Hezbollah's main hope in the election Sunday is that its allies win enough seats to lift the Hezbollah-led alliance to a slight parliamentary majority - and by doing so, mark another milestone on its path to political dominance.

Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk announced the turnout figure at a news conference shortly after midnight and appeared to blame it on the new electoral law agreed a year ago.

Gibran Bassil, who serves as foreign minister and heads Aoun's party, told reporters on Monday that their bloc could end up having 30 seats.

Hezbollah's own estimates a few hours after counting started sees the Shiite movement coming out on top everywhere it fielded candidates, although only official results expected early Monday will confirm the vote's outcome.

Hezbollah-backed Sunnis did well in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon, strongholds of Hariri's Future Movement, the preliminary results showed.

Hezbollah and its allies are likely to add more seats, while Hariri is likely to lose several.

The election also marked the return to Parliament of supporters of the Syrian regime, raising concerns that with Bashar Assad's position in Damascus now more secure, his government would revert to trying to influence the administration in Lebanon.

In less than two years, the movement has expanded into a coalition of 11 civil society groups and independents competing for seats under one banner called Kollouna Watani (Arabic for We Are All the Nation).

But TV channels stopped reporting her victory on Monday, leading supporters to say they were robbed.

Thousands of army and police forces deployed near polling stations and on major intersections across the country to ensure security. In the Choueifat district, a crowd inside a station accused the station supervisor of illegal voting practices and smashed a ballot box, spilling its contents across the floor.

Hezbollah had put its full weight behind the Baalbak-Hermel elections, which were handled personally by Hasan Nasrallah, who warned of direct Saudi money trying to buy off voters on Sunday, especially after Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Boukhari, visited the district in late March. Yet most parties - aside from the Shiite parties, Hezbollah and Amal - have been unable to form joint electoral lists at the national level, instead opting for local alliances to contest various seats. Both Hariri and the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, were expected to speak later in the day.

One video showed a Hezbollah flag being raised in front of the St George Hotel on the capital's waterfront, the site of the 2005 bombing that assassinated Saad Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Most people described a festive atmosphere for parties who had won seats.

That will give them a decisive role in forming the government and naming the prime minister.

He said he would continue to work closely with President Michel Aoun, who is allied with the rival, Hezbollah-led bloc.

The results indicated Sunni voters were losing faith in Mr Hariri's party amid a declining Saudi role in Lebanon, a deteriorating economy and general exasperation over the civil war in Syria, which has further strained the economy to the breaking point.

Hezbollah and its allies look set to shoot at 47 chairs within the 128-seat parliament, which could allow them to veto any laws that it opposes.

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