Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good News Out Of Lebanon

Congratulations to Lebanon, congratulations to democracy, congratulations to freedom. The Lebanese have proved today their commitment to freedom and democracy. There are no winners and losers in this election, the only winner is democracy and the biggest winner is Lebanon.

Saad Al-Hariri, Leader of the Anti-Syrian Coalition 'March 14,' announcing victory in the 7 June 2009 election.

Despite the best efforts of Iran to turn the Lebanese election in favor of its proxy, Hezbollah, the anti-Syrian coalition known as "March 14," defeated Hezbollah and its allies in Lebanon's parliamentary election on Sunday. This from Ya Libnan:

. . . OTV, the television station of one of Hezbollah's key Christian allies, former army chief Michel Aoun, conceded that the party's candidates who challenged pro-Western competitors in several Christian districts had been defeated, preventing a victory for the Hezbollah coalition. But Aoun was able to hang on to his representation in other districts.

Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, a leading private Christian TV station, projected the pro-Western coalition to win 68 seats in the next parliament, with 57 for Hezbollah and its allies and three for independents.

That would almost replicate the deadlock that existed in the outgoing parliament, in which the pro-Western bloc had 70 seats and an alliance of Hezbollah and other Shiite and Christian factions had 58.

The leader of the largest bloc in the pro-Western coalition, Saad Hariri, said early Monday in a televised speech that he extends his hand to the losing side "to work together and seriously for the sake of Lebanon." He urged supporters to celebrate without provoking opponents.

But despite the conciliatory tone, Lebanon was at risk of sliding again into a political crisis over formation of the next government similar to the one that buffeted the country for most of the last four years.

Hezbollah had veto power in Siniora's Cabinet for the last year, which it won after provoking the worst street clashes since the 1975-1990 civil war. The pro-Western coalition had vowed not to give Hezbollah and its allies a blocking minority in the new government if they won.

The battle in Christian districts was the decisive factor. Lebanese generally vote along sectarian and family loyalties, with seats for Sunnis and Shiites in the half-Christian, half-Muslim, 128-member parliament already locked up even before the voting started.

Christians in the pro-Western coalition warned that Hezbollah would bring the influence of Shiite Iran to Lebanon. The Maronite Catholic Church made a last-minute appeal, warning that Lebanon as a state and its Arab identity were threatened, a clear reference to Hezbollah and its Persian backer, Iran.

Sunnis were also driven to vote for the pro-Western coalition to get back at Shiite Hezbollah gunmen for seizing the streets a year ago in Beirut from pro-government supporters.

Some 3.2 million people out of a population of 4 million were eligible to vote, and the interior minister said after polls closed that the turnout nationwide was about 52.3 percent, an increase over the 2005 figure of 45.8 percent. . . .

Read the entire article. This is good news indeed.

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