News ID: 102656
Publish Date : 16 May 2022 - 22:09
Iran Says Will Respect Outcome

BEIRUT (Dispatches) —
Lebanon’s Hezbollah-allied Christian Free Patriotic Movement party won up to 16 seats during parliamentary elections on Sunday, the head of the party’s electoral machine told Reuters.
Sayed Younes told Reuters the party had won 18 seats during 2018 polls and would seek to form a bloc of about 20 MPs with its allies once results from Sundays elections are finalized.
The FPM, founded by president Michel Aoun, had formed the single-largest bloc after 2018 polls.
The anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces (LF) party, a staunch FPM rival, claimed to have won 20 seats in Sunday’s polls, up from 15 in 2018.
FPM head Gebran Bassil accused the LF party of buying votes, saying the election was marred by “a forgery of the will of the people through paying money.”
Speaking at a press conference after the closure of the polls, Bassil noted that the party was not engaged in a normal competition with rival parties, but in a battle that “began, at least, on October 17, with the United States, Israel, and their allies.”
Referring to recent remarks made by David Schenker, the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Bassil said the former official “admitted that he had run a confrontation with me, considering what I represent” and also acknowledged “the fall of the project that targeted us”.
Schenker had referred to the U.S. role to hasten the economic collapse in Lebanon and how the administration of Donald Trump exploited Lebanon’s so-called October 17 movement to distort the image of – and also weaken – Hezbollah and its allies, including the FPM.
But Bassil stressed that “the movement emerged victorious in this battle,” noting that “it would have a large parliamentary bloc”.
Preliminary unofficial results put voter turnout at 41.04 percent, down from 49 percent in the 2018 parliamentary election.
While votes are still being counted, initial results showed nine candidates of the electoral list titled “Hope and Loyalty” announced by the alliance between Hezbollah and Amal movements in addition to other parties, won a majority of votes in Baalbek-Hermel.
Supporters of the resistance movements took to the streets in the city to celebrate the news.
The Maronite seat in Baalbek-Hermel was won by LF candidate Antoine Habashi.
The LF party was previously a militia group that emerged from the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
Reuters cited Antoinette Geagea, the head of the press office of the LF, as saying that the party won at least 20 seats, up from 15 in 2018.
The alleged gains mean the LF could overtake the FPM as the biggest Christian party in parliament.
In Nabatieh City, three candidates of “Hope and Loyalty” won a majority of votes.
Lebanon has been rocked by an economic meltdown that the World Bank has blamed on the ruling class and the 2020 devastating port blast in the capital, Beirut.
The economic crisis, which began in 2019, led to a currency collapse of some 95 percent and the plunge of more than 80 percent of the Lebanese population into poverty.
Lebanon’s 120-seat parliament is equally divided between Christians and Muslims.
The last vote in 2018 saw Hezbollah and its allies, the FPM and the Shia Amal party of parliament speaker Nabih Berri, secure a majority by winning 71 of the seats.
With votes still being counted in Lebanon, the final results have yet to emerge for the first election since Lebanon’s devastating economic meltdown and a huge port explosion in 2020 that shattered Beirut.
Iran said it respected the votes cast by people in Lebanon’s parliamentary election.
“Iran respects the vote of Lebanese people... Iran has never tried to interfere in Lebanon’s internal affairs,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told a televised weekly news conference.

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