Lebanon: Second round of parliamentary elections begins, Hizbullah expects win
The second round of the four-stage parliamentary elections opened in the south of Lebanon on Sunday. All 23 seats allotted to the south in parliament are seen certain to be grabbed by the coalition of Hizbullah and Speaker Berri's Amal Movement. A victory would give the Shiite movement greater political influence to confront international pressure to disarm.
Six of the South seats have already been taken by ticket members officially declared 'winners unopposed' in Sidon, provincial capital of the south, and in Jezzine, South Lebanon's largest Christian city. About 665,000 men and women are eligible to cast ballots, but the turnout is expected by the local media from 30% to 40%.
However, the death of Samir Kassir, the anti-Syrian journalist killed Thursday by a bomb in his car, reignited hostility toward Syria and prompted calls for President Emile Lahoud, Syria's greatest supporter in Lebanon, to step down.
Lebanon's opposition blamed Syria for the assassination - a charge Syria strongly denied. Kassir's death has also sparked calls for an international inquiry.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)