Lebanon's PM Hariri: New electoral law allowed parties to commit violations

Casey Dawson
May 8, 2018

Hariri looks to be the next prime minister, but cabinet choices are not yet determined due to the Shi'ite Hezbollah bloc majority.

"My hand is extended to every Lebanese who participated in the elections to preserve stability and create jobs", Hariri said in a televised statement Monday.

Lebanon's prime minister must be a Sunni according to the country's sectarian power-sharing system.

Hezbollah is proscribed as a terrorist group by the United States and its hold on Lebanese affairs has been problematic for a succession of U.S. and European leaders.

Rival blocs in parliament could not agree on a new president between 2014-16 and repeatedly made a decision to delay elections, partly because of disagreement over moving from a winner-takes-all to a proportional voting system.

As part of Lebanon's political system, seats in parliament are divided between the country's 18 officially recognised sects.

Turnout stood at a lowly 49 percent, according to official figures released after Sunday's vote by the interior ministry.

Such a result would cement Hezbollah's role in the Lebanese government as the strongest political power in the country.

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

According to a Reuters calculation based on preliminary results for almost all seats, Hezbollah and its political allies such as the Amal Movement and Free Patriotic Movement have won 67 out of the parliament's 128 seats.

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Hezbollah and its allies appear to have gained seats, giving another boost to Iran's allies in Lebanon and neighbouring Syria, where Tehran's influence has grown in recent years as it has provided crucial support to President Bashar Assad. "In general, following the election results, we can say that in terms of means of our election campaign and the right choice of political alliances we achieved what we were counting on", Nasrallah said, aired by the Al Manar TV channel.

Hezbollah won a majority of seats in Lebanese parliamentary elections, which are still waiting to be confirmed by an official vote count, ousting the current prime minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement of a third of its seats Sunday.

The new rules are seen as unlikely to undermine the long-entrenched political elite, a group that includes local dynasties and former warlords.

Lebanon's polling stations have opened for the first parliamentary elections in nine years.

"This is a great political and moral victory for the resistance", Nasrallah said, in reference to his party's identity as bulwark against Israeli and Western aggression.

Qassemi also congratulated the candidates that have won the vote of people in the first parliamentary elections in Lebanon in nine years.

The biggest victor so far is the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, which nearly doubled its number of seats to 15. "It's the first time I vote", Therese, 60, told AFP outside a voting centre in central Beirut. The Director of the Lebanese Waqf Muhammad Anis al-Arditi called on Sunnis not to let Beirut became the fourth conquered by the Iranians, the Arab capital, along with Baghdad, Damascus and Sanaa.

Lebanon has often been a scene where the rivalry between the region's two heavyweights has played out, but their political clients in this election seemed content to maintain the status quo.

Despite pre-poll hopes that a civil society movement could break through into Lebanese politics, only one candidate was thought to have been elected. But many, including Machnouk, blamed the new, complex law which redrew constituency districts for the tepid turnout particularly in Beirut.

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