Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Hezbollah allies gain in Lebanon vote, underscoring Iran sway

Hezbollah and allies set to win more than half of the seats in Lebanon parliament Elections in Lebanon Boost Hezbollah's Clout
Faye Gross | 09 May, 2018, 07:55

Akkar district in northern Lebanon was excluded due to an ongoing tallying process.

Unofficial results show the resistance Movement Hezbollah and its allies have managed to gain more than half of the votes.

The Hezbollah Shiite party along with its political allies may secure a victory in the recent Lebanese parliamentary election, Al Mayadeen TV reported on Monday, citing preliminary vote results. "This is a democratic wedding, and as we said from the start, congratulations to whoever wins tonight", Machnouk, the interior minister who was a candidate on Hariri's list, said after casting his ballot in Beirut.

However, it is not entirely certain that Hezbollah and FPM will maintain their 12-year alliance.

Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri's Future Movement did not turn in a stellar performance; in comparison to the 33 seats his party won in the previous election in 2009, Hariri's party won only 21 seats this time around.

"Hariri's loss would be the distinguishing mark of those elections, which can have penalties on the battle to kind a brand new authorities", the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar day by day wrote earlier on Monday.

"Your trust is a medal on my chest", he said.

Hariri lost to Hezbollah and Amal-backed Sunni candidates in his party's strongholds of Beirut, Saida and Tripoli.

"The Beirutis disappointed us all, as they stayed away from voting", said Ahmed Itani, a follower of Hariri.

More than 11 seats are predicted to have been won by other political parties aligned with the duo.

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The Sunni leader vowed to cooperate with all parties working on securing political stability in the country.

"Hizbollah seeks to translate politically in Lebanon its "victory" in Syria, but it does not want to talk too loudly about it". But experts said they built on the regional trends that have buffeted the tiny country as next-door Syria is consumed by war.

Nasrallah said that "resistance forces" - referring to his Iranian-backed movement and its allies in the country - have significant parliamentary presence now.

The polls were also marked by a low turnout of 49.2 percent and the emergence of a civil society movement, which is challenging Lebanon's oligarchs and was set to break into parliament for the first time. Hariri would still have the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, facilitating his return as prime minister to form the next government.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah achieved what it was hoping to in the elections.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the proportionality vote law gave a great opportunity for many political forces and figures to participate, adding: "despite some flaws in it, we must not go back to the old law of majority".

The number of Hezbollah MPs was the same or little changed, but candidates supported by the group or allied to it gained in major cities.

Hezbollah supporters road through the streets of Beirut on scooters, honking their horns and waving the militant group's signature yellow flag as some shouted sectarian slogans.

Both Hariri and Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah were expected to speak in the evening.

Hezbollah, which was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and now battles in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States.

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