Lebanon News

Amal and Hizbullah gain most from South polls

Sunday’s polls in the former occupied zone saw a resounding triumph for the Hizbullah-Amal alliance and a sweep in Hasbaya for Progressive Socialist Party-backed candidates.

According to final results released by the Interior Ministry on Monday evening, the Hizbullah-Amal alliance took 131 out of 141 local council seats in the qada of Bint Jbeil. The other 10 were taken by independent candidates and those backed by the Communist Party. In the town of Bint Jbeil, the Amal-Hizbullah list took 17 out of 21 seats, with the remainder going to a Communist Party-backed candidate and three independents.

Observers expected the Amal-Hizbullah alliance to pick up the majority of seats in other qadas where the alliance fielded candidates, with a limited number of victories by independents and leftist-backed tickets, the alliance’s main competition.

The ministry statement did not include the turnout, which had been estimated at 40-60 percent of 219,000 eligible voters.

Meanwhile, Walid Jumblatt’s PSP scored a clean sweep in the town of Hasbaya and villages like Ain Qenya, Shwaya and Mari, against a three-way challenge by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and supporters of Druze MPs Talal Arslan and Anwar Khalil.

In Ibl es-Saqi, a joint PSP and Communist Party-backed ticket picked up eight of 12 seats. The Communist Party’s eight-member ticket in Kfar Shuba fielded four winners, with the remaining 11 seats won by the Hizbullah-backed Patriotic Alliance list. In Shebaa, the ticket backed by Hizbullah, Amal, the Baath and the SSNP and other groups won 13 of 18 seats, with the others secured by candidates supported by MP and Baath Party official Qassem Hashem.

The PSP’s secretary-general, Sharif Fayyad, told The Daily Star that the victory by Jumblatt over his rivals in the Druze community “doesn’t mean a hostility between the competitors in the elections.

“The polls were meant to bring a harmonious team to promote local development,” he said, adding that the election had taken place “in a spirit of sportsmanship.”

The Communist Party was less kind, condemning “excessive bias” by the authorities and saying that election day included “oddities that no one could have imagined.”

What particularly irked the party was an election-day tour by Interior Minister Elias Murr, who mixed stops at government departments and polling stations with visits to a selected group of key politicians, such as Speaker Nabih Berri and Hizbullah’s Sheikh Nabil Qaouk.

The Communist Party said Murr “took an electoral tour for the benefit of (Amal and Hizbullah), which he defended with strange warmth.”

For his part, Berri said that Amal’s alliance with Hizbullah would continue in order to “strengthen the two great achievements, namely the liberation of the South and the municipal elections.”

 

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