Exclusive to the Middle East Online
Edited by Nelly Tawil
Sunday saw the beginning of a small turnout for Lebanese voting in municipal elections in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley amid tight security. The outcome of the election will reveal the 24-seat municipal council who will run the Beirut’s affairs for the next six years. The election follows the capitals largest anti-government protest in years following a months-long trash crisis.
The country hasn’t held votes since 2010 leading the government to postpone parliamentary elections, citing security concerns linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Since 2014 the parliament has failed to elect a president for its country due to political disagreements and a paralysis among political rivals often related to their stance on the war in Syria, leaving Lebanon without a leader.
1.8 million voters have registered for this round of voting. Other parts of the country will also be holding three more rounds of voting over the coming weeks.
Beirut saw the least amount of voters; the interior minister saying that turnout was at 13% in the capital. The highest turnout was in Baalbek, a Hezbollah-stronghold near the Syrian border, where 33% voted.
Successfully organising the municipal elections will strengthen the argument that delaying other voters for security concerns is unnecessary.
“These [elections] prove that Lebanon’s democracy is in good shape and we can hold elections,” said Hariri, the son of late prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated by a massive bomb in Beirut in 2005.