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Lebanese Forces to boycott Antonine University elections
File - Students cast their vote during elections at a university in Beirut, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
File - Students cast their vote during elections at a university in Beirut, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: The student association of the Lebanese Forces announced that it would be boycotting elections at Antonine University, according to a statement released by the student group’s department of francophone universities.

According to the statement, the decision to boycott elections was taken after the Antonine University administration failed to fulfill their promise to “change the electoral law at the beginning of the academic year so that elections could uphold the ‘One Man, One Vote law,’” or equal representation for all student groups.

This would be the fourth year in a row that the Lebanese Forces student chapter has decided to boycott elections at the university.

The elections are set to take place Saturday at the school.

According to the student group, the LF decided to boycott elections after the university released a statement in which it made clear its intention to “eliminate political life and prevent the creation of student [political] groups.”

The association also said that the administration’s reluctance stemmed from its regulations, specifically article 13, paragraph 6, which states student elections must be kept separate from national politics. The regulation is the reason the university does not permit political student groups to openly run in elections.

The influence of national politics on university elections drew national attention earlier this year following a series of confrontations between student supporters of Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces at Université St. Joseph. The confrontation had escalated as officials from both parties traded insults in the media, leading the school to announce new security measures, particularly at the Huvelin campus in Monnot.

According to the LF statement, Antonine University’s current electoral law is structured to favor Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement.

Hezbollah supporters are estimated to comprise 40 percent of the school, and thanks to their alliance with the FPM the March 8 bloc is expected to win by an easy majority.

The LF has also attempted to make the case that many Christian students would be unable to vote because they would be spending the weekend before Christmas in their hometowns. The statement accused the university of “eliminating the most potent Christian votes.”

Last month, students affiliated with the Free Patriotic Movement boycotted elections at the Notre Dame University in Zouk Mikail in protest of the school’s current electoral law. The Lebanese Forces and their March 14 allies emerged victorious after the voting.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 19, 2013, on page 4.
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