Why is FPM’s Bassil trying hard to call off Lebanon parliamentary elections ?

Lebanese president Michel Aoun L is shown with his son-in-law FPM leader Gebran Bassil . The background is the flag of their ally the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group

According to an article in Gulf News by its correspondent Sami Moubayed , President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil has been trying hard to call off Lebanese Elections altogether

Prime Minister Najib Mikati during a television interview on September 27. said that the parliamentary elections which were originally scheduled for May 8, 2022, will now be held on March 27, fulfilling one of the many demands of angry Lebanese citizens who took to the streets of Beirut back in October 2019, demanding early elections, accountability, and restructuring of the entire political system.

While ordinary citizens welcomed the announcement, Bassil is not at all happy about that

According to the article Bassil is worried and that is why he has been trying hard to call off the elections altogether, fearing they would diminish his parliamentary bloc of 29 MPs, currently the largest in the Parliament . Bassil will reportedly have a hard time winning the same number of seats, which he badly needs to nominate himself for the presidency in October, when his father-in-law’s term ends.

Bassil has reportedly lost much of the support that he once enjoyed when the last elections took place in 2018, and many accuse him of corruption and nepotism, even within his own Maronite Christian community.

Bassil and Aoun shoulder much of the blame for the economic meltdown in Lebanon, and the August 2020 explosion at the Beirut port that killed hundreds , injured thousands and left 300, 000 homeless after it tore down a huge section of the city.

This August 5, 2020 file photo, is the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. 218 killed ,7000 Injured after several hundred tons of ammonium nitrate exploded . 2750 tons were stored there for nearly 7 years, reportedly for use by the Syrian regime in its barrel bombs. The shipment was reportedly confiscated by Badri Daher a close associate of President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil , both are allied with the Syrian regime . The shipment arrived at a time when Syria was surrendering its chemical weapons to a UN backed organization for destruction . Aoun officially knew about the Ammonium Nitrate 2 weeks before the explosion but did nothing about it . He , along with his Hezbollah allies refused an international investigation but promised a local investigation that will bring the culprits to justice in less than a week but 8 months later not one politician has been charged. According to an investigation by FBI only 20 % of the chemical exploded . Several intelligence reports revealed that Hezbollah shipped most of the nitrate to Syria and used the rest in Germany , UK and Cyprus (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, Beirut, Lebanon(Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP)

Supporting early parliamentary elections are three Christian parties that are striving to increase their share in the new Parliament, and to bring down Bassil. Two of them are traditional opponents of the FPM, being the Lebanese Phalange or Kataeb that is headed by Sami Gemayel family and the Lebanese Forces (LF) that is headed by Samir Gaegea. Geagea who won big in the last election; more than doubled the size of his parliamentary bloc is expected to win big again this time . Both parties are expected to gain seats at the expense of FPM.

Also supporting an early vote is the Marada Party of Sulaiman Frangieh, the other Christian ally of the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group . Frangieh has his eyes set on the Lebanese presidency, and is adamant on challenging Bassil in October 2022. He has the regional support of both Syria and Iran and locally, Hezbollah reportedly promised him the presidency last time when it backed Aoun in 2016. Frangieh too needs to increase his parliamentary standing . Any gains will also be at FPM’s expense

According to the article the only thing that can turn the tables in favour of Bassil is if Lebanese expatriates are denied the right to vote in upcoming elections, an option that is currently making the rounds in Lebanese political circles. There is no specific figure on how many Lebanese packed up and left over the past two years, but they have all voted with their feet and shown their utmost displeasure with the Aoun administration.

Many started emigrating after the banking sector collapsed in early 2020 (after Lebanon defaulted on his public debt for the first time ever ) while thousands walked away in the aftermath of port explosion in August 2020. The majority are professionals who greatly despised Bassil and If they are allowed to vote next March , then their ballot would certainly not be for Bassil and any of his candidates, the article concludes.



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