Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is poised for a major victory in Sunday's battle for the political dominance of Beirut, even though a clean sweep of his lists in the capital's three electoral districts could diminish the prospects of his return to power, according to the Daily Star.
The Lebanese daily said that despite last-minute efforts to persuade Hariri to slow down his thrust against current MPs Salim Hoss and Tammam Salam, the former premier remained bent on crushing his rivals to return to the legislature with a Beirut bloc larger than his outgoing 13-member alliance.
In Sunday's polls, 85 candidates will contest the capital's 19 seats six Sunnis, two Shiites, a Druze, three Armenian Orthodox, one Armenian Catholic, two Orthodox, a Catholic, a Maronite and two minorities. It is not clear how many of Beirut's estimated 290,000 voters have obtained electoral cards, said the paper.
Hariri has been the only candidate to form lists in all three districts. He initially left a Shiite slot vacant in District Two, but announced on Friday that he will include Mohammed Berjawi of Hizbollah on his ticket, even though the candidate is a member of Salam's list.
On Saturday, a Syrian senior official told Albawaba.com that Syria has always wanted Hariri back in power, though it would not try to dictate this on the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.
The unnamed source vowed that Syria will keep distance from all candidates for the parliament and will not interfere in the formation of the coming government in Lebanon – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )