Middle East

Lebanon's general election marred by violence

Armed group opens fire in Beirut's Aicha Bakkar district but no causalities reported, says National News Agency

08.05.2018
Lebanon's general election marred by violence

By Gulsen Topcu

BEIRUT

Violence erupted yesterday in Lebanon's capital following the country's first general election in nine years, Lebanon's official National News Agency (NNA) reported Monday.

In Beirut’s Saint-George district, an armed group of motorcyclists covered a statue of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri with a political party's flag, NNA reported.

The group later went to Aicha Bakkar district in the western part of the capital and opened fire.

No casualties were reported, according to NNA.

Following the incidents, Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Chief of General Staff General Joseph Avn and Director-General of the Internal Security Forces Major General Imad Osman to prevent the violence from escalating further and to take necessary precautions.

Armed forces set up security checkpoints and started patrolling the city to provide security.

Parliament Speaker and leader of the Amal Movement Nabih Berri condemned the unrest on Beirut's streets.

"We condemn these abominable incidents that Hezbollah supporters and Amal Movement supporters carried out in the capital,” he said.

Elections

According to preliminary results of Sunday's polls, a coalition between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement secured the highest number of seats -- 34 -- in the 128-seat assembly.

President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, meanwhile, is expected to come in second with at least 26 seats.

Preliminary results also showed gains by Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces (Phalange), which appear to have secured at least 15 seats.

In an unprecedented development, many voters broke with the political mainstream, with seven independent candidates -- including five women -- picking up seats.

Nevertheless, Sunday’s parliamentary polls saw an unusually low turnout of only 49.2 percent.

The polls saw 917 candidates from various parties vie for parliamentary seats, half of which are reserved for Muslims, while the other half are reserved for Christians.

The vote was held under a new proportional system which divides the country into 15 separate electoral constituencies.

The final results are expected to be announced in the coming days, according to local media.

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