Lebanon's President Calls for Calm in Parliamentary Election Campaign
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, responding to a wave of violence in the campaign for upcoming legislative elections that has left at least two people injured, called Saturday for calm.
Lahoud was quoted by Melhem Karam, head of the journalists' union, as calling on candidates to "show responsibility in order to avoid the electoral campaign tarnishing the image of the country."
In the eastern town of Shtoura, a bomb was thrown Friday at the house of MP Abdelhamid Murad, an ally of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The explosion caused property damage but no casualties.
In the Bekaa valley, there were clashes between supporters of different candidates and, in south Lebanon, shots were fired into the house of former parliamentary speaker Kamel al-Assad without causing injuries.
Lebanese are to go to the polls either on August 27th or September 3rd, depending on what part of the country they live in, to elect a 128-member parliament for a four-year term.
Legislative seats are evenly divided between the Muslim and Christian populations.
Opposition political parties and prominent political figures have been increasingly critical of what they say is interference by both Lebanese and foreign intelligence services, notably those of Syria, in the elections.
Syria, which is tied to Lebanon by a 1991 friendship and cooperation treaty, has unrivalled influence in the country, where it keeps 35,000 troops.
On Thursday, 150 Lebanese -- mostly student members of the Progressive Socialist party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, the Free National Current of exiled General Michel Aoun and the banned Christian party Lebanese Forces -- demonstrated in Beirut against these "interferences." - BEIRUT (AFP)
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