Lebanon: Ex-politician claims political alliances have been shuffled by local elections

Published May 17th, 2016 - 02:00 GMT
Former Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel. (AFP/File)
Former Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel. (AFP/File)

The latest local polls greatly shuffled political alliances in Lebanon and toppled the so-called March 8 and 14 alliances, former Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel said in remarks published Tuesday.

"No one knows who his ally or rival is anymore," Gemayel said in an interview with Al-Akhbar newspaper, adding that the first and second rounds of municipal polls "confused all the foundations of the political conflict that have existed in the country since 2005."

He said that each party "disclaimed their alliance's commitments and favored their own interests and choices."

Gemayel cited the second round of local polls held in Mount Lebanon Sunday, saying that various Christian parties were allied in some areas and engaged in an electoral battle in others.

"The Kataeb allied with the Free Patriotic Movement and the National Liberal Party in Jounieh, and engaged in a battle against the FPM and the Lebanese Forces in Ghousta," he said, adding that the FPM and LF were also allies in some areas and rivals in others.

The Mount Lebanon vote was the second of four rounds of municipal elections across Lebanon. The first round was held in Beirut, the Bekaa and Baalbek-Hermel governorates on May 8.

The third and fourth rounds of municipal polls are scheduled for Sunday in south Lebanon and Nabatieh, and on May 29 in north Lebanon and Akkar.

The municipal elections, the first democratic polls to be staged since 2010, are widely seen as crucial for preserving equal power-sharing between Muslims and Christians. They come amid growing complaints by key Christian parties of alleged marginalization in state posts.

Christian parties hope that the municipal polls will be a prelude to a new electoral law that will replace the 1960 voting system and give Christians a greater voice in choosing their MPs.

Turning to the power void and parliament paralysis, Gemayel told the daily that the "security situation no longer [works] as an alibi to not stage the [parliamentary] polls," stressing the necessity to elect a new head of state and activate state institutions.

He also said that sharp differences "are preventing any agreement on" the new electoral law.

"Since the beginning, we [Kataeb party] considered the presidential vacuum a crime against the state's constitutional institutions."

Lebanon has been without a head of state since the tenure of President Michel Sleiman ended in May 2014 and the Parliament extended its term by two years in November 2015 over what it said was security concerns.

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