WED 24 - 4 - 2019
Date: Apr 25, 2018
Source: The Daily Star

Folder: Elections
Aoun to address Lebanese ahead of elections and ambassador ‘concerned’ at rising vote violence
BEIRUT: British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter wrote in a tweet Monday that he was “concerned by increasing reports of electoral violence.” Candidates running for office “have the right to campaign freely,” Shorter wrote.

The message came as unidentified individuals opened fire at a campaign office belonging to the National Dialogue Party in the Qasqas neighborhood of southern Beirut Monday, according to a statement by list head Fouad Makhzoumi.

There were no reported injuries in the attack. In the aftermath, Makhzoumi called on candidates to “wage the electoral battle in a civilized and democratic manner” and urged government officials to protect him from further election-based attacks.

Candidate blasts Hezbollah-Amal 'monopoly' in south following attack

BEIRUT: Two days after being surrounded and attacked by suspected Hezbollah supporters while hanging campaign posters in Bint Jbeil, parliamentary candidate Ali al-Amin indirectly accused Hezbollah and the Amal Movement of holding a “monopoly” over southern Lebanon.

“Resistance has never been the monopoly of one [group], but rather the duty of many,” the anti-Hezbollah candidate said during a televised press conference Tuesday. “We did not go through [Israeli] occupation just to see it replaced with another unjust despotic [reality]. ...The best gift we can give to Israel is to lose our freedom of expression,” Amin added, referring to the decades-long occupation of southern Lebanon by Israel.

Though Amin did not mention Hezbollah or Amal by name, his electoral district of South III, which contains Bint Jbeil, Marjayoun, Hasbaya and Nabatieh, is a longtime Hezbollah-Amal stronghold. All but two of the district’s 11 current Parliament members belong to the two parties.

“The south is for all its sons, and its land is not the exclusive property of any one group,” Amin said.

Amin, a journalist and editor-in-chief of the south-focused news site Janoubia, came into the spotlight Sunday after dozens of suspected Hezbollah supporters beat him up while he was hanging campaign posters. He suffered light injuries as a result of the attack, including a broken tooth.

A Hezbollah source later deflected blame for the attack, telling Lebanese outlet LBCI that the party “condemns resorting to violence” during electoral campaigning.

Amin is contesting one of Bint Jbeil’s three Shiite seats with the “We’ve Had Enough Talk” electoral list, in opposition to Hezbollah.

Joumblatt, Arslan agree to promote calm after electoral dispute

BEIRUT: The leaders of the Progressive Socialist Party and the Lebanese Democratic Party agreed on the need to keep the peace ahead of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, after supporters of the two groups reportedly engaged in an armed dispute.

According to a statement from the PSP media office released Tuesday, PSP chief MP Walid Joumblatt and LDP head Minister for the Displaced Talal Arslan held a phone call during which they asserted mutual cooperation to foster a calm atmosphere for the May 6 elections. The two agreed to stay “away from whatever can cause tension on the ground in the different towns, besides the political disputes and differences in opinions regarding several cases and issues.”

The PSP and the LDP are rivals in the electoral battle, with both groups considered to be heavyweights among the Druze community, particularly in the Chouf-Aley district.

According to the state-run National News Agency, a dispute erupted between supporters of the groups in the Aley town of Choueifat Sunday, with some supporters taking up arms before calm was restored.

The Tuesday statement noted that the leaders had “also affirmed the need to move away from any move that could cause provocation between the supporters, or be a source of disturbance to the citizens, who are looking forward to practice their right to vote amid an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
Candidate criticizes Hariri’s helicopter use

BEIRUT: Former General Security chief Jamil al-Sayyed Monday criticized Prime Minister Saad Hariri Monday for using military helicopters on campaign tours, a privilege Sayyed said was against the electoral law.

In an open letter addressed to Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, Sayyed accused Hariri, who is running to keep his parliamentary seat in the Beirut II electoral district, of “violating the electoral law” by using helicopters provided by the Lebanese Army for campaign purposes.

Sayyed cited Article 57 of the law, which defines “contributions” as, among other things, “anything of material value to the list or candidate.”

Sayyed is running for Parliament on a Hezbollah-backed list for one of six seats in Baalbeck-Hermel.

The violent incident follows a separate attack on an anti-Hezbollah candidate from south Lebanon over the weekend by a number of suspected Hezbollah supporters.

Candidates taking undue credit for works: minister

BEIRUT: Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos said Monday that candidates running in the upcoming parliamentary elections have falsely been taking credit for roadworks carried out by the ministry, according to a statement from his office.

Some candidates, whom he did not identify, have been “seeking to exploit the Public Works and Transport Ministry’s annual program ... by claiming to be behind [paving and road renovation] works” that are being carried out by the ministry in “all regions of Lebanon,” the statement quoted him as saying.

Fenianos urged candidates not to take false credit for the implementation of the ministry’s annual program.

There is a common perception that roads are resurfaced around election time in Lebanon in a bid to demonstrate MPs’ influence in their respective regions.

Sabaa supporters protest electoral disputes, bribery

BEIRUT: A number of Sabaa party supporters Tuesday held a protest in front of the Interior Ministry in Sanayeh, carrying banners “questioning the Interior Ministry’s role in the elections,” the state-run National News Agency reported.

The protesters demanded to meet with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to discuss the fairness of elections and candidates’ breaches of the electoral law.

Speaking on behalf of protesters, Sabaa supporter Gilbert Hobeich accused Machnouk of “forgetting the main duty” of his ministry, “while he is touring and holding meetings for [his own] election campaign.”

Hobeich said that there had been many instances of bribery and the exploitation of government posts to promote candidates, as well as disputes and poster tearing incidents. He said all of this was “unacceptable,” noting that the Interior Ministry should take responsibility.

Hobeich also noted the resignation of Electoral Supervisory Committee member Sylvana al-Lakkis – who Friday announced that she no longer wanted to be party to the committee’s “inability” to carry out its mandate – as well as the committee’s media conference yesterday, in which representatives said the body “does not have authority over political candidates.”

According to Hobeich, both incidents were “indications” that “the Electoral Supervisory Committee only supervises civil society or candidates [aiming to] change [the political landscape].”

Aoun to address Lebanese ahead of elections

BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun will address Lebanese nationals at home and abroad Wednesday evening ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections.

Aoun will deliver a televised speech at 8 p.m. Wednesday, touching on the importance of participating in the electoral process, in light of the new proportional law that was passed.

The parliamentary elections are set to take place on May 6, but will be preceded by expat voting, to take place later this week.

Expats in Arab countries will vote Friday, and those in Europe and the Americas will vote on April 29.

A total of 82,970 expats are registered and eligible to vote from overseas in the upcoming elections.

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