Hezbollah coalition likely to win majority as Lebanon votes

Lebanese voted in a parliamentary election to decide the shape of government for the next four years.

Hezbollah coalition likely to win majority as Lebanon votes

Lebanese voted in a parliamentary election on Sunday in which the Hezbollah and its allies will be likely to overturn the majority of U.S.-backed rivals in a vote, which will decide the shape of government for the next four years.

Some polls forecast a narrow victory for Hezbollah, which is backed by Christian leader Michel Aoun. Hezbollah is part of the present government.

But many expect the formation of a broad coalition cabinet, including parties from both sides, regardless of the result.

The "March 14" majority coalition led by Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri has enjoyed firm backing from the United States and other countries including Saudi Arabia. The alliance won elections that followed the assassination of Hariri's father, Rafik, in 2005.

Being conducted under a new law, this year's election will largely be decided by the voting in Christian districts. Aoun, a former army commander, faces Christian rivals in the shape of the Phalange party of former president Amin Gemayel and the Lebanese Forces of Samir Geagea.

"Democracy is a blessing that we must preserve, a blessing that distinguishes Lebanon in the Middle East," President Michel Suleiman told reporters after voting in his hometown in Jbeil district, north of Beirut.

He urged Lebanese to vote, calling it "an important act that should be done calmly and with joy so that afterwards we can start to build Lebanon".

"Accept results"

Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm (0400 GMT to 1600 GMT), with 3.2 million people eligible to vote.

Some 50,000 members of the security forces have been deployed over the 26 electoral districts to prevent any of the sectarian violence, focusing on areas where competition is expected to be tightest.

Lebanon's complex power-sharing system divides the 128 seats in parliament equally between Christians and Muslims.

Top government posts are also allocated along confessional lines. The president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.

Hezbollah's coalition includes the Shiite movement Amal and a major Christian faction led by former army chief Michel Aoun. Opposing it are the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim supporters of current majority leader Saad Hariri, allied with several Christian and Druse factions.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who heads a team of international observers, urged the Lebanese parties and their foreign backers to accept the result of the vote.

"I don't have any concerns over the conduct of the elections. I have concerns over the acceptance of the results by all the major parties," Carter said after visiting a polling station in Beirut.

"All the international observers hope and encourage all the parties to accept the result of the election whether they win or lose."

About 200 international observers are monitoring the vote.



Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Haziran 2009, 11:58
YORUM EKLE