Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hezbollah and allies lose majority in Lebanese parliament

BEIRUT ( Associated Press) — The Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and its allies have lost the parliamentary majority they had held since 2018, according to final Lebanese election results released Tuesday. Hezbollah’s staunchest rivals and more than a dozen independents won support in the election.

The Hezbollah-led coalition won 61 seats in the 128-member chamber, 10 fewer than in the previous vote four years ago. That decline was due in large part to the pushback of Hezbollah’s Christian allies, the Free Patriotic Movement, founded by President Michel Aoun, as several traditional Hezbollah allies lost their seats.

The main winner turned out to be the Christian Lebanese Forces nationalist group, led by Samir Geagea, one of the harshest critics of Hezbollah and its Iranian allies. Another big winner was Druze leader Walid Joumblatt, whose group won the eight seats he was seeking.

Now, the Lebanese Forces have the largest group in the chamber with 19 seats and outnumber Hezbollah’s main Christian allies, the Free Patriotic Movement. The movement now has 17 seats, three less than in the previous elections.

Despite the setback, Hezbollah and its main Shiite ally, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal group, retained the 27 seats allocated to the Shiite community.

Independents and newcomers, several of them associated with the 2019 protest movement, took 14 seats. It was a great achievement considering that they arrived at the elections divided and in the midst of intimidation and threats from the traditional parties.

His good result sends a clear message to the established political class, which has remained in office despite an economic collapse that has impoverished the country and caused the largest exodus of migrants since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The figures showed a highly divided parliament between forces for and against Hezbollah, who would have problems working together to form a new government or pass laws necessary for the reforms that a financial recovery of the country requires.

Analysts noted that with two major blocs at odds – Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces – the election results could produce further paralysis at a time when the country desperately needs unity.

The spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, called for the “rapid formation of an inclusive government” that can finalize an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and accelerate the implementation of necessary reforms to put Lebanon on the path of recovery.

The UN urged the “new parliament to urgently pass all necessary legislation to stabilize the economy and improve governance,” Dujarric said.

The most affected were the Hezbollah allies close to the government of the president of Syria, Bashar Assad, such as the vice president of parliament, Elie Ferzli; Druze politician Talal Arslan, who has been a parliamentarian for three decades; Assad Hardan and Faisal Karami, son of the late former Prime Minister Omar Karami.

Sunday’s parliamentary elections were the first since Lebanon’s economic collapse began in late 2019. Government factions have done virtually nothing to address the crisis, leaving the Lebanese to fend for themselves as they fall into disarray. poverty without electricity, medicine, garbage collection or any other feature of normal life.

The vote was also the first since a deadly explosion at Beirut’s port in August 2020 that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and damaged parts of the capital.

Nation World News Desk
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