06/08/2009, 00.00
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Elections in Lebanon: Hariri’s pro-western coalition wins

The “March 14th” alliance declares victory, ahead of the official results. Exit polls give 71 of the 128 parliamentary seats to the coalitions. 58 seats go to Hezbollah, Amal and general Aoun’s movement, members of the “March 8th” alliance. For Saad Hariri “there are no winners or losers in these elections; the only winner is democracy in Lebanon”.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The pro-western “March 14th” coalition, led by Saad Hariri has declared victory in Lebanon’s general election.  With almost 90% of votes counted, the Free Patriotic Movement led by former army chief Michel Aoun, Hezbollah, allied with Hezbollah and Amal in the “March 8th” coalition, have admitted defeat.

Voter turn out was low, only 54% of the 3.2 million eligible to vote.  But the Ministry for Internal Affairs says it was still the highest percentage to participate in a poll since the end of the civil war in 1991.

The coalition led by Hariri, the son of the former premier assassinated in 2005, is made up of Sunnis from “Future”, Druze from the Social Progressive Party and a collection of Christian parties including “Falange”.  “March 14th” should have a 10 seat majority over its “March 8th “rivals.  Early estimated give 71 seats of the 128 seat parliament to the coalition;  Hezbollah, Amal and Aoun’s movement have taken 58 seats between them.  Two seats have gone to independents while remaining seats have yet to be assigned.    

Exponents from both sides have already reacted to the early results.  For the outgoing Prime Minister Fouad Siniora it is “a victory for Lebanon and an exceptional day for democracy”.  Saad Hariri confirms that “there are no winners or losers in these elections; the only winner is democracy in Lebanon”. The “March 14th” leader added that he aims to “work together [with all of the political parties] for the good of Lebanon”.  He then invited his supporters to celebrate the victory without provoking opposition supporters.

Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader in the March 14 alliance, said Hezbollah and its allies should be included in a new Lebanese government. "We should not forget that the elections should be a boost to the dialogue and we should not try to isolate the other parties," said Jumblatt confirming his policy of openness towards the Shiite party.   For its part ahead of elections Hezbollah had repeatedly spoken of a “government of national unity”.  Hassan Fadlallah, a parliamentarian from the Shiite party, notes; “No party can claim to have won the majority among all communities” and now “what matters to us is that Lebanon turns a new page, one based on partnership, co-operation and understanding”.

Election Day was not marked by particular signs of tension.  An estimated 60 thousand police kept vigil over polling.  In Tripoli a man was shot to death and in other sensitive areas authorities reported clashes between opposing factions, but the Ministry for Internal Affairs confirms that the vote, by and large, went smoothly.


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