Youssef Naqib was yesterday elected the new president of the Association of Islamic Philanthropic Aims (Maqassed) in Sidon in a quiet election supervised by security forces.
About 680 people participated in the poll, which was held at one of the association’s schools.
Minutes before voting took place, the only other candidate for the top post Mustafa Dandashli signed an official protest questioning Naqib’s education credentials and deploring the presence of personal bodyguards on the school’s campus.
Naqib and his partisans won seven of the eight contested seats. The remaining seat was won by Afif Hashisho from Dandashli’s list.
The protest was noted by a representative of the interior ministry, Mustafa Houmani, and the unauthorised spectators were ordered out of the school.
Activity at the five ballot boxes was initially slow but picked up towards midday.
Naqib, also director-general of Ogero, was backed by an alliance grouping prime minister Rafik Hariri, former minister Nazih Bizri, and al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, which contributed two candidates to the list, one of whom was victorious.
Dandashli’s list was supported by independent and opposition political figures.
Naqib described the elections as “predictable”, saying the atmosphere was excellent. “The results were clear from the beginning,” he said.
Asked about Dandashli’s protest, Naqib said that the result was the best answer to that.
Dandashli agreed with Naqib that the elections had gone smoothly. “The reason I ran for the position was so no one would win unopposed, otherwise it would not have been a democratic election,” he said.
Dandashli added that his candidacy proved the democratic character of the Maqassed association. “The fact that I ran forced the elections to take place,” he said.
The former head of the association, Mustafa Zaatari, said the protest over Naqib’s educational credentials had no basis.
“Naqib has a degree in industrial engineering from a university in California and we have a copy of this document,” he said.
Naqib received 409 votes, against 208 for Hashisho and 131 for Dandashli, who did not win a seat. Thirty-seven blank ballots were submitted.