Lebanon Elections

Bahia Hariri names five-candidate list

(The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Sidon MP Bahia Hariri Wednesday officially announced five candidates standing for the Future Movement’s “Integration and Dignity” list in the Sidon-Jezzine district, in an event attended by hundreds of supporters. “This list is going forth to elections in defense of the will of life in an area they [opponents] want to break. ... They want to erase the history of [assassinated Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri from Sidon [and] ... Jezzine, and replace it with an era [defined by] the domination of people,” Hariri said in an opening address, without explicitly naming who she was accusing.

“We and you, the people of sincerity and loyalty ... are rooted in our land ... and no forces, no matter how strong, will be able to abolish our place and our history,” she said. “We look forward to a future in this region, based on honest partnership ... not on the basis of lies and pretension.”

She also thanked locals for giving her “the honor of representing women in Parliament.” Hariri is one of four current female MPs.

Hariri, who has held her seat representing Sidon since 1992, announced Future’s candidates for the district. She named herself and Hasan Shamseddine for the two Sunni seats in Sidon. In Jezzine she named Amin Rizk and Angel Khawand for the two Maronite seats, and Robert Khoury for the Catholic seat.

Future is facing a steep race against three other electoral lists in the merged district of 122,382 registered voters. One of these is an alliance of the Free Patriotic Movement, Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya – the Muslim Brotherhood’s Lebanese branch – and former Sidon Mayor Abdul-Rahman Bizri; another joint list will include Popular Nasserite Organization leader Osama Saad and Ibrahim Azar. Another list will include the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party.

This year’s elections – the first in nine years – are scheduled to take place on May 6 and will be held under a proportional law for the first time. Unlike the previous majoritarian law, seats are expected to be divided among a comparatively diverse range of parties and groups, including independents.

All electoral lists for the elections were submitted by March 26 – with 597 candidates remaining in the running across 77 lists.

The FPM, Hezbollah, the Lebanese Democratic Party and the Amal Movement announced a joint electoral list in Baabda, called the “National Accord” list.

FPM candidate MP Alain Aoun said that the list affirms “our commitment to live together and respect each other, and we will maintain this [principle] with our allies as well as with our competitors.”

In the latest iteration of a monthslong feud, Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh Wednesday blamed the FPM party for fragmenting Christians in Lebanon and “monopolizing” control over the state.

“The FPM has allied with Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, the Amal Movement and the Future Movement. It has agreed with the far right and the far left but the dispute remains with Christian parties on the scene – so who is responsible for this fragmentation?” he said in an interview with France 24.

“We do not know what [the FPM] is doing today, especially with these electoral alliances,” he added. “Why do you disagree with all the Christian parties if you agree with everyone [else]?”

Criticizing President Michel Aoun, who founded the FPM, Frangieh said, “When we were talking about a strong president, we wanted much better. We consider [Aoun] ... a president of the [FPM] working on [FPM] elections.”

The Marada Movement leader added: “All those who have tried to monopolize [decision-making in the past] have led to disasters and have paid for it, from [assassinated president-elect] Bachir Gemayel to Michel Aoun in the 1980s.”

“We believe it is the era of the [FPM] and not the era of Lebanon or the Christians in it,” he said.

Separately, Prime Minister Saad Hariri Tuesday night told a group of Beirut families once again that upcoming parliamentary elections are “important,” and required “the people of Beirut to vote intensively,” a statement from his office reported.

“We know the magnitude of the problems in the capital, and we are working with the municipality to solve them, especially the traffic crisis,” he said.

Hariri did not elaborate on what work was underway in this regard.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk of the Future Movement meanwhile said during a dinner at the Four Seasons hotel in Beirut that those running on some lists against the party in Beirut were “committing a big mistake against the city,” a statement from his office reported.

Machnouk said he did not doubt the “patriotism” of those on “one or more lists,” but said they would drain thousands of votes from Future without actually winning any seats, and therefore, “the result would be to the benefit of Hezbollah.”

Machnouk also blasted the Hezbollah-linked Resistance Brigades, saying “the most dangerous [thing] is the [presence of weapons] with the so-called Resistance Brigades,” which he called “the strife brigades.”

The Resistance Brigades is Hezbollah-linked militia designated for non-Shiites, or for Shiites who do not want to commit to the party’s main military formation.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 29, 2018, on page 2.

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