WED 23 - 5 - 2018
 
Date: May 4, 2018
Source: The Daily Star

Folder: Elections
FACTBOX: Lebanon's main political players
Reuters
BEIRUT: Lebanon holds its first parliamentary election in nine years Sunday, with candidates vying for 128 seats that are divided among 11 religious groups according to a strict sectarian power-sharing system. Here are the main players:

THE FUTURE MOVEMENT

Future is led by MP Saad Hariri, Lebanon's leading Sunni and prime minister since 2016. Hariri took on his political role after his father Rafik Hariri was assassinated in 2005.

The early years of his political career were defined by confrontation with heavily armed Hezbollah. A U.N.-backed court later charged five Hezbollah members over the killing of Rafik Hariri. The group denies any role.

Hariri still opposes the Iran-backed Hezbollah but these days says its arsenal is an issue that is bigger than Lebanon and should be solved through regional dialogue. His focus is now on reviving and reforming the moribund economy.

He enjoys backing from the West, notably France which intervened last November when he resigned while in Saudi Arabia - a close ally of the Hariri family.

HEZBOLLAH

Hezbollah is the most powerful group in Lebanon. It was founded in 1982 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and is deemed a terrorist group by the United States. It has grown even more powerful since 2012 as a key player in the Syrian war, fighting in support of President Bashar Assad.

Hezbollah entered parliament for the first time in the 1990s. It also has ministers in government.

THE FREE PATRIOTIC MOVEMENT (FPM)

The FPM was established by Maronite Christian politician Michel Aoun, a former army commander who led one of two rival governments in the final years of the 1975-90 civil war.

Aoun became president on Oct. 31, 2016, as part of the political deal that made Hariri prime minister. The FPM is led by Aoun's son-in-law and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and has been allied to Hezbollah since an agreement in 2006.

THE AMAL MOVEMENT

The Shiite majority Amal Movement was a civil war adversary of Hezbollah but has been closely aligned with the group since the conflict ended. It is led by Nabih Berri, who has been speaker of parliament since 1992. Amal also has close ties to Assad.

THE PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST PARTY (PSP)

The PSP is led by MP Walid Joumblatt, the strongest figure in the Lebanese Druze minority. Jumblatt inherited his role from his assassinated father, Kamal, and was a prominent civil war leader. Joumblatt is in the process of handing authority to his son, Teymour Joumblatt, who is running in his place in the election. However, the older Joumblatt is still head of the party having been re-elected last year.

THE LEBANESE FORCES (LF)

The LF led by Maronite Christian politician Samir Geagea emerged from a powerful civil war militia by the same name.

Geagea led the LF through the final years of the war after the 1982 assassination of Bashir Gemayel, its founder. Geagea, the only Lebanese militia leader to serve jail time over civil war violence after a trial held during the Syrian tutelage of Lebanon, is the most significant Christian opponent of Hezbollah.

THE KATAEB

The Kataeb, also known as the Phalange Party, is led by Maronite Christian politician MP Sami Gemayel, who took over the leadership from his father, former President Amine Gemayel.

Sami Gemayel moved to the fore after the assassination of his brother, Pierre, in 2006 during a wave of killings targeting opponents of Syrian influence in Lebanon.

THE MARADA MOVEMENT

Marada is led by Maronite Christian politician Sleiman Frangieh, a close Hezbollah ally and a friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hariri initially backed Frangieh for the presidency in 2016 but the deal did not gain wider backing. Instead, Hariri struck the deal that made Aoun head of state.


 
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