Lebanese PM Hariri's Movement Wins 21 Seats at Parliament

Lebanese PM Hariri's Movement Wins 21 Seats at Parliament

Lebanese PM Hariri's Movement Wins 21 Seats at Parliament

Unofficial results indicated that Hezbollah has won at least 67 of the 128 seats in the parliament; but the number of Hezbollah MPs was little changed, at around 13, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Lebanon's first national elections in nine years were marked by a tepid turnout Sunday, reflecting voter frustration over endemic corruption and a stagnant economy.

Saudi Arabia started to reduce its long-term support for Hariri when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman summoned him to Riyadh last November and ordered him to resign, after complaining Hariri had not done enough to confront Hezbollah. "His ability to substantially tame or restrain Hezbollah is going to be very limited".

Hezbollah's gains in the Lebanese election on Sunday show that the state is indistinguishable from the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group, and that Israel should not distinguish between them in any future war, an Israeli security cabinet minister said. The pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper Monday declared the election a "slap" for Hariri on its front page.

"I extend my hand to everyone who participated in the elections, to preserve stability and create jobs; I know that Lebanon can only be ruled with all of its political elements".

He said during a press conference from Beirut that the elections grant his movement a "big bloc" in parliament.

The results will dismay not only Saudi Arabia.

A new electoral law redrew the country into 15 electoral districts, further entrenching Lebanon's foundational sectarian makeup, and introduced proportional representation.

This election was also the first time in Lebanese history that electoral candidates promoted gay rights.

"When we see what is happening in countries around us and Lebanon is holding democratic elections, this shows that Lebanon is fine", Hariri said after waiting in line around 20 minutes to cast his ballot.

The polling stations across the country opened doors at 7 a.m. local time (0400GMT) and were closed at 7 p.m. local time (1600GMT).

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"We hope we will open a new era", said Mahmoud Daouk, voting in Beirut.

"I am still the ally of President Michel Aoun because this alliance achieved stability in Lebanon", stated Hariri.

Elsewhere in the country, weird "collusive" local lists were formed among traditional establishment foes to ensure the three main religious blocs of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Christians wouldn't be disrupted too much by the new electoral law.

Turnout was 49.2 percent, according to officials.

As Hariri entered a public school in Beirut to vote, a woman in a wheelchair complained that polling stations were not equipped for disabled voters.

The Future Movement headed by Hezbollah opponent Sa'ad Hariri lost seats and now appears to have only 18 seats, a loss of 16.

Worldwide donors want to see Beirut embark on serious economic reforms to reduce state debt levels before they will release billions pledged at a Paris conference in April.

The Hezbollah Shiite party along with its political allies may secure a victory in the recent Lebanese parliamentary election, Al Mayadeen TV reported on Monday, citing preliminary vote results.

A member of the Israeli government said that the preliminary results confirmed the Israeli government's perception; that Lebanon and Hezbollah were equals.

Hezbollah, which was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and now battles in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States, while the European Union lists Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist, differentiating between its military activities and political.

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