Lebanon kicks off final round of municipal elections in Tripoli

Published May 29th, 2016 - 06:50 GMT
Lebanese guards watch over the line for a polling station on May 8, 2016. (AFP/File)
Lebanese guards watch over the line for a polling station on May 8, 2016. (AFP/File)

Polls opened in the final round of municipal and mukhtar elections in North Lebanon and Akkar Sunday, presenting a key test for civil peace in a region that has witnessed repeated bouts of Syria-related violence over the past few years.

As in the previous votes that have taken place in the country each Sunday since May 8, thousands of police and soldiers were deployed at polling stations in case violence occurs.

General Security had announced Saturday the closure of the Aboudieh border crossing to Syria for two days coinciding with the elections. The crossing is set to reopen at midnight.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk encouraged voters to express their opinions in Sunday's polls, but to "show restraint" whatever the outcome of the elections are.

Speaking to Al-Jadeed, Machnouk said there were 850 thousand eligible voters in the north, including Akkar, and that 273 municipalities and 798 mukhtars were to be elected.

- Tripoli-

The elections for Tripoli's 24-member municipal council are the first to be held since years of battles between gunmen from rival neighborhoods battered parts of the poverty-stricken city.

Three lists are competing in the city. The "For Tripoli" list is backed by former prime ministers Saad Hariri and Najib Mikati, ex-minister Faysal Karami, and some Islamist groups.

The “Tripoli’s Choice” list is backed by resigned Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, a Tripoli native who recently split from his allies in the Future Movement. Former MP Misbah al-Ahdab is backing the “Tripoli Capital” ticket.

- Zghorta -

An alliance announced earlier this week grouping the Marada Movement, the Independence Movement, the Future Movement, the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces and representatives from the Doueihy family and civil society groups are expected to sweep the polls in Zghorta.

The alliance reflects the new shift in alliances between parties in Lebanon, where long-time rivals such as the Marada and the Independence Movements are stood side-by-side in the elections.

- Akkar-

In Qobeiyat, one of the largest Maronite towns in that governorate, Future MP Hadi Hobeish has expressed his support for the “Qobeiyat Decides” list headed by current mayor Abdo Abdo. The list also has the backing of the Kataeb Party.

It is facing off against the “Qobeiyat’s People” ticket, supported by the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement.

There are 580,095 eligible voters in the North Lebanon governorate and 269,910 in the governorate of Akkar. Twenty-eight out of 128 municipalities in Akkar have won by acclamation.

The Interior Ministry announced that the heads of polling stations in the villages of Ain Zeit and Bazal were changed for violations.

There were also reports of fights taking place in the governorate such as in Rahbeh.


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