Dozens protest in Beirut outside Future Movement office

Published May 12th, 2016 - 01:48 GMT
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri posed with Future Movement supporters outside a Beirut polling location earlier this week. (AFP/File)
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri posed with Future Movement supporters outside a Beirut polling location earlier this week. (AFP/File)

Several dozen people gathered outside a Future Movement office in Beirut's Al-Tariq al-Jadideh area Thursday to demand payments.

A source told The Daily Star that the protesters were staff hired to campaign for the Future Movement's "Beirutis' List" in Sunday's municipal elections in the city.

Protesters accused the party's general coordinator for Beirut Bachir Itani of receiving their payments and delaying their delivery, the source added, saying the demonstrators will hold a larger rally in the same area at 6:00 p.m.

However, Al-Jadeed television broadcast hidden video recorded by one of its reporters alleging that the protesters were voters who were promised payments for backing the Future list.

The video showed about 30 or 40 people holding up papers and their identity cards to men on a balcony in the Qasqas neighborhood.

Al-Jadeed said it will broadcast the video in full during its evening broadcast at 7:50 p.m.

The "Beirutis’ List" swept the city’s local elections despite a strong showing by a rival secular group, Beirut Madinati (Beirut My City), on Sunday.

The Future Movement list was headed by incoming mayor Jamal Itani.

The official results showed that the Beirutis’ List won about 15,000 votes more than Beirut Madinati.

The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) said Monday it recorded 647 violations and incidents of harassment during the elections in Beirut and east Lebanon.

In a report, the monitor said 425 of the total violations, or nearly two-thirds of them, took place in Beirut, while 222 occurred in the Bekaa Valley and the Baalbek-Hermel district.

The nature of the violations included bribes, pressure on voters, promoting candidate lists in and around polling stations, the interference of security forces or other officials during voting and vote counts, and preventing observers from entering polling stations, among others.

In remarks Thursday, Hariri hailed Sunday's vote as a victory for democracy.

"Lebanese people proved few days ago that democracy is still strong," he said, according to a statement released by his office.

He said he hoped that the elections will prove that the people, state institutions and the presidency shouldn't "be taken hostage anymore."

"We appreciate democracy and seek the establishment of a strong and stable state," Hariri said.

The remarks came during a luncheon attended by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, Future parliamentary bloc head MP Fouad Siniora, Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk and several other officials, including the EU's ambassador to Lebanon, Christina Lassen. 

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