Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri takes a selfie with supporters during an elections event in Beirut, Thursday, May 5, 2016. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Voters in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley head for polling stations Sunday to cast their ballots in municipal elections, widely viewed as vital for maintaining equal power sharing between Muslims and Christians, as former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday urged supporters to vote for coexistence and national unity.Addressing a large rally in Beirut, three days before the first round of municipal and mukhtar elections kick off in the capital, the Bekaa and Baalbek-Hermel, Hariri appealed to supporters to vote for the Future Movement-backed electoral list, the Beirutis' List, asserting that their votes would underline commitment to parity between Muslims and Christians and national unity. The municipal and mukhtar elections in Beirut, the Bekaa and Baalbek-Hermel are the first of a four-stage voting.The Beirutis' List is facing stiff competition for the control of Beirut's 24-member municipal council from two main rival groups: Beirut Madinati (Beirut my City) and Citizens within a State. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk has vowed to ensure safe and smooth voting, saying more than 20,000 security and military personnel would be deployed in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley to oversee the municipal elections, which he described as the most important for the country in decades.
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