Sources in Beirut today said balance and national co-existence won in the capital along with the victory of the bet of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and his supporters. Unofficial results today emphasized an expected victory of 23 candidates out of 24 running under the consensus list of Beirut which is backed by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and a majority of parties and sides in the capital. Only one candidate, Fadi Shahrour, is expected to lose in favor of Abdel Hamid Fakhoury, the head of a rival list in the capital. Hisham Sinno, a candidate on the consensus list, scored more than 50,000 votes, the highest record up to now.
Preliminary results indicated that the first five highest records were scored by Hisham Sinno, Ahmad Khaled, Isam Barghout, Abdel Menem Al-Arees, and Rola Al-Ajouz. Results in around 100 polling station out of 832 in Beirut have not been issued yet.
Official results will be announced this evening by Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr. Voter turnout is estimated to have reached 25% as an average in all the electoral areas in the capital. Sources in the capital said the residents of Beirut did not practice any kind of organized crossing of names from the consensus list.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today discussed the electoral process in the South and the capital during a phone call with Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir. Hariri later informed Agence France Presse that preliminary results of the Beirut polls indicate that the Lebanese are convinced of the importance of sectarian balance and national co-existence.
Hariri also stressed the importance of these results despite the fact that the municipal and mayoral election law does not take into consideration sectarian distribution of seats. AFP reported Hariri as saying that yesterday's ballots in Beirut indicated that the principle of co-existence is the strongest in the capital and that all those who were doubtful of this were confronted with the will of the Beirutis who voted for national balance.
Speaking following a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir, Wadih Al-Khazen told reporters at Bkirki yesterday's local polls in the capital proved that awareness prevails among Beirut's citizens and that Beirut is a city of consensus and balance. Al-Khazen also praised the democratic atmosphere which dominated yesterday in the capital. The Maronite Patriarch also received today the ambassador of Chile to Lebanon and former deputy Fouad Al-Saad. A delegation of the Islamic union for cultural and social services in Quebec also visited Sfeir and invited him to visit the union in Canada.
Preliminary results in Sidon indicate that the list of the Decision of Sidon won 20 seats in the city's municipal council. The winners are: Farouq Al-Zaatari, Zouheir Qiblawi, Hilal Qobrosly, Hilal Abu-Zeinab, Mheiddine Al-Sabaayoun, Nazih Nouriddine Al-Bizri, Mahmoud Al-Hariri, Mahmoud Bdih, Saeed Akra, Mohammad Al-Misi, Wehbe Shaayb, Mustafa Al-Bsat, Nasser Hammoud, Fadi Hijazi, Walid Jradi, Ali Baouji, Wasim Al-Baba, Walid Osseiran, Iskandar Haddad, Elia Abboud.
According to these unofficial results, the single remaining seat was occupied by Dr. Oussama Saad, the head of the rival List of Sidon supported by his brother MP Mustafa Saad.
The city's Decision list is backed by the head of the education committee in parliament, deputy Bahiyya Al-Hariri, Dr. Abdel Rahman Al-Bizri and Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiyya. The unofficial results show that only one candidate of the list, Arab Kalash, lost in favor of Saad. An estimation of voter turnout in Sidon reached 75%.
In Tyre, preliminary results show a landslide victory of all 21 municipal candidates running under the list supported by the Amal Movement and Deputy Ali Al-Khalil. The defeated list is supported by Hizbullah, the Democrats and the Communists. Deputy Ali Al-Khalil announced these results early this morning. Al-Khalil praised the kind of national co-existence prevalent in the city adding that the winners are four Christians, four Sunni, and 13 Shiites. It seems no names were crossed out of the list. High voter participation was scored in all the areas of South Lebanon yesterday and the electoral day was characterized by high security measures although no incidents or clashes was reported.
This afternoon (Local time), House Speaker Nabih Berri held a press conference at his residence in Msayleh to discuss yesterday's electoral process in the South.
Berri praised the victory scored by Amal and the parliamentary change and development bloc in Tyre. He also thanked all the residents of the South who supported this coalition and praised their remarkable strength and will-to-stay in the South. The House Speaker attributed Hizbullah's victory in the municipality of Nabatieh to a wide-scale crossing of names supported by Amal in Nabatieh. However, four candidates supported by Amal won among the Hizbullah majority and scored four of the highest records. Berri also announced some preliminary mayoral election results saying Amal won 146 mukhtar positions, Hizbullah got 50, Independents scored 25 seats, and five positions are to be occupied by Leftists. Concerning municipal seats, Berri said the list supported by the Amal coalition won in 73 municipalities out of 97 in the South which is a landslide victory.
The fourth and last round of municipal and mayoral elections is expected to take place next Sunday in the governorate of al-Bekaa. There are around 118 municipalities in the governorate distributed as follows:
The District of Zahle:
26 municipalities, 330 municipal councils, 820 candidates
The District of Baalback:
42 municipalities, 546 municipal councils, 1239 candidates
The Western Bekaa District:
22 municipalities, 276 municipal councils, 661 candidates
The District of Rashayya:
26 municipalities, 273 municipal councils, 525 candidates
The District of Hermel:
2 municipalities, 36 municipal councils, 93 candidates
Around 988 candidates are competing for 384 Mukhtar positions.
The deadline of running for candidacy in the Bekaa ends this evening. As a result, electoral lists in the governorate are to be announced soon. The battle is expected to be the fiercest in Zahle.
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