Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Hezbollah, allies in Lebanon poll victory

Hezbollah, allies in Lebanon poll victory
Gerardo Duncan | 08 May, 2018, 02:27

A relaxed-looking Hariri told a large group of local and foreign journalists at his Beirut residence that the results, which have not yet been officially announced, credit his Future Movement with 21 of parliament's 128 seats, a drop from the 33 it controlled in the outgoing legislature.

Lebanese people went to the poll stations on Sunday to vote in their parliamentary elections after nine years.

The two main protagonists of the country's first legislative polls in nearly a decade did not wait for official results to comment on the implications of a vote which was also marked by low turnout.

Astute pre-electoral tactics have secured Hezbollah enough allies to withstand political challenges on strategic issues. Lebanon's Prime Minister must be a Sunni under its sectarian power-sharing system.

The election results, however, still make Hariri the frontrunner to form the next government as the Sunni leader with the biggest bloc in parliament.

Hezbollah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, called it a "political and moral victory" for the "resistance", as the group refers to itself and allies.

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.

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

In Beirut precincts, the turnout was between 32 percent and 42 percent.

Hariri, and other senior politicians, blamed the unexpectedly weak turnout on a new electoral law which appears to have confused or disappointed voters.

Hezbollah's seat gain may complicate relations with Western countries.

The elections were the first since war broke out in neighbouring Syria in 2011, sending over one million refugees to Lebanon, a small country with a population estimated at around 4.5 million.

Hezbollah and its political affiliates secured 67 seats in the Lebanese parliament, bringing them to a simple majority, according to unofficial results from both politicians like Hariri and Lebanese news outlets. Hezbollah has also backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war while its interference in countries like Yemen and Syria has earned it the terrorist label from a number of oil-rich Gulf nations.

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