Supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement carries a picture of FPM leader Michel Aoun during a protest in Downtown Beirut, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Azakir)
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Free Patriotic Movement officials elected members to the party's political bureau for the first time in its history Sunday, in a step to prepare for a future without its charismatic founder, Gen. Michel Aoun.The party's president, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, praised the elections in the broader framework of internal reform. Party insiders said the president's slate swept the elections, claiming all six open seats in the nine-member political bureau.But some accused the party's apparatus of intimidating dissenting candidates and forcing several to withdraw, saying the responsibility ran all the way up to Aoun. Sources said that Aoun, who remains highly influential in the party, intervened personally to stem opposition to Bassil and ensure a rubber-stamp committee. Bassil is disliked by many inside the party, who say he is high-handed.
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