Fu­ture Move­ment won Sidon mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions


Saad-Hariri LBC kalam ennasBEIRUT, Lebanon – The Fu­ture Move­ment won cru­cial mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in Si­don , south Lebanon
Voter turnout dur­ing the peace­ful and smooth vot­ing in south Lebanon and Na­batieh reached 48.15 per­cent, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Nouhad Mash­nouk told a news con­fer­ence at his of­fice hours af­ter polls closed at 7 p.m.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri, who made a pre­vi­ously unan­nounced visit to the south­ern city of Si­don Sun­day night, hailed the ma­jor vic­tory achieved by the Fu­ture­backed “De­vel­op­ing Si­don, Si­don For­ward,” headed by cur­rent Mayor Mo­ham­mad Saudi, even be­fore of­fi­cial re­sults were an­nounced.

“The new mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil headed by Mo­ham­mad Saudi will work for the fu­ture of Si­don. We are keen on Si­don’s de­vel­op­ment. Si­don is the cap­i­tal of the south,” Hariri told re­porters amid a large crowd of sup­port­ers who gath­ered at the res­i­dence of Shafic Hariri, the brother of the late for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Rafik Hariri, in Si­don.

Hariri’s aunt, Si­don’s MP Bahia Hariri, and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Fouad Sin­iora were on hand to wel­come him.

Hariri said the mu­nic­i­pal and mukhtar elec­tions in Si­don car­ried “a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage” that the Fu­ture Move­ment ex­ists in all of Lebanon. “The Fu­ture Move­ment is the only move­ment that rep­re­sents all sects,” he said.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion, Hariri said the ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties were us­ing the mu­nic­i­pal polls as a re­hearsal for next year’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions and also to show­case their po­lit­i­cal base.

Hariri said he had opened “a new page” with his po­lit­i­cal ri­val, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Mikati. He dis­closed that he had agreed with Mikati dur­ing last week’s ice-break­ing meet­ing with him hosted by Prime Min­is­ter Tam­mam Salam on a con­sen­sus list to con­test the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in the north planned next Sun­day.

Saudi’s list faced tough com­pe­ti­tion from two ri­val tick­ets, one backed by the Pop­u­lar Nasserite Or­ga­ni­za­tion headed by for­mer Si­don MP Osama Saad, and another backed by an Is­lamist group.

Sun­day’s mu­nic­i­pal and mukhtar elec­tions in south Lebanon and Na­batieh came two weeks af­ter sim­i­lar polls were staged in Mount Lebanon, Beirut and the Bekaa Val­ley. The final round of mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions will take place in the north and Akkar on May 29.

Mash­nouk re­it­er­ated his call for the elec­tion of a pres­i­dent be­fore hold­ing par­lia­men­tary polls. He said that the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem has been stalled due to the ab­sence of a pres­i­dent.

Lebanon has been with­out a head of state since for­mer Pres­i­dent Michel Sleiman’s ten­ure ended in May 2014. Par­lia­ment has since been un­able to elect a suc­ces­sor due to a lack of quo­rum.

“The Le­banese sys­tem is stalled due to the ab­sence of a pres­i­dent rather than be­cause of the ex­ten­sion of Par­lia­ment’s man­date,” Mash­nouk said, re­fer­ring to the ex­ten­sion of Par­lia­ment’s term twice in 2013 and 2014. He warned that the talk about hold­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions be­fore the elec­tion of a pres­i­dent is a recipe for “a po­lit­i­cal clash” in the coun­try.

“Once a pres­i­dent is elected, par­lia­men­tary elec­tions can be held one or two weeks later,” Mash­nouk said.

He added that 60 per­cent of calls re­ceived by his min­istry’s hot­line for the elec­tions were from heads of polling sta­tions, 30 per­cent from cit­i­zens and 10 per­cent from an elec­tion mon­i­tor­ing group, the Le­banese As­so­ci­a­tion for Demo­cratic Elec­tions.

LADE re­leased a re­port say­ing that it recorded over 490 vi­o­la­tions in both the south Lebanon and Na­batieh gov­er­norates, most of which were in the Tyre and Na­batieh dis­tricts.

LADE said 22.9 per­cent of the vi­o­la­tions were recorded in the Si­don dis­trict, 37.7 per­cent in the Jezzine dis­trict and 39.2 per­cent in the Tyre dis­trict.

As for the Na­batieh gover­norate, 29.5 per­cent of the vi­o­la­tions recorded by LADE were in the Bint Jbeil dis­trict, 30.7 per­cent in the Has­baya and Mar­jay­oun dis­tricts com­bined and 39.5 per­cent in the Na­batieh dis­tricts.

LADE’s re­port said vi­o­la­tions were on­go­ing dur­ing the polls, in­clud­ing bribes, ram­pant chaos at polling sta­tions, pres­sure on vot­ers by op­pos­ing can­di­dates and can­di­dates cam­paign­ing on elec­tion day.

Although south Lebanon and Na­batieh are con­sid­ered to be the heart­land of the Amal Move­ment and Hezbol­lah, fam­i­lies and left­ist par­ties have formed can­di­date lists at­tempt­ing to chal­lenge the two groups’ es­tab­lished reign in sev­eral towns.

As in pre­vi­ous polls, over 20,000 mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity per­son­nel de­ployed heav­ily at polling sta­tions in the south to en­sure smooth and safe bal­lot­ing.